MicroFinance_literature_review - MICRO-FINANCE Literature...

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MICRO-FINANCE Literature Review Based on work by Eoin Wrenn for Trócaire, 2005 What Is Microfinance? Microfinance, according to Otero (1999, p.8) is “the provision of financial services to low-income poor and very poor self-employed people”. These financial services according to Ledgerwood (1999) generally include savings and credit but can also include other financial services such as insurance and payment services. Schreiner and Colombet (2001, p.339) define microfinance as “the attempt to improve access to small deposits and small loans for poor households neglected by banks.” Therefore, microfinance involves the provision of financial services such as savings, loans and insurance to poor people living in both urban and rural settings who are unable to obtain such services from the formal financial sector. 1. Microfinance and microcredit. In the literature, the terms microcredit and microfinance are often used interchangeably, but it is important to highlight the difference between them because both terms are often confused. Sinha (1998, p.2) states “microcredit refers to small loans, whereas microfinance is appropriate where NGOs and MFIs 1 supplement the loans with other financial services (savings, insurance, etc)”. Therefore microcredit is a component of microfinance in that it involves providing credit to the poor, but microfinance also involves additional non-credit financial services such as savings, insurance, pensions and payment services (Okiocredit, 2005). 2. The History of Microfinance Microcredit and microfinance are relatively new terms in the field of development, first coming to prominence in the 1970s, according to Robinson (2001) and Otero (1999). Prior to then, from the 1950s through to the 1970s, the provision of financial services by donors or governments was mainly in the form of subsidised rural credit programmes. These often resulted in high loan defaults, high loses and an inability to reach poor rural households (Robinson, 2001). Robinson states that the 1980s represented a turning point in the history of microfinance in that MFIs such as Grameen Bank and BRI 2 began to show that they could provide small loans and savings services profitably on a large scale. They received no continuing subsidies, were commercially funded and fully sustainable, and could attain wide outreach to clients (Robinson, 2001). It was also at this time that the term “microcredit” came to prominence in development (MIX 3 , 2005). The difference between microcredit and the subsidised rural credit programmes of the 1950s and 1960s was that microcredit insisted on repayment, on charging interest rates that covered the cost of credit delivery and by focusing on clients who were dependent on the informal sector for credit (ibid.). It was now clear for the first time that microcredit could provide large-scale outreach profitably. The 1990s “saw accelerated growth in the number of microfinance institutions created and an increased
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MicroFinance_literature_review - MICRO-FINANCE Literature...

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