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The impact of microfinance on the economy of poor areas

2021-06-01 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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The impact of microfinance on the economy of poor areas

 

Microfinance is a relatively new concept that has grown exponentially in the last decade as investors, donors, and banks realise the potential for capital that can be made by banking to the poor. In the past it was assumed that poor people were not having access to the banking services since they were only capable of taking out small loans, and had no collateral. Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the first to start banking to the poor, proved that not only is the poor bankable, but Microfinance in the informal sector can be quite profitable. Since then microfinance institutions have sprung up all over the world and reached millions of poor people (Simanowitz and Walter, 2002)

Poverty has multidimensional characteristics in most developing countries. The level of poverty is relatively high due to the fact that employment opportunities are limited and average income level is low. Poverty is not only a phenomenon of low income; it is also a phenomenon of the poor quality and limited access to basic services like education, healthcare, water, shelter, and sewerage. In terms of poverty and inequality, large differences exist between rural and urban areas. Poverty alleviation has been declared as the main macroeconomic objective of all ruling parties, but their efforts have remained very limited in achieving this objective.

Some available evidence suggests that the first credit union in Africa was probably established in Northern Ghana in 1955 by the Canadian Catholic missionaries that were there at the time. However, Susu, which is one of the current microfinance schemes in Ghana, is thought to have originated in Nigeria and spread to Ghana from the early 1900s. Over the years, the microfinance sector has thrived and evolved into its current state thanks to various financial sector policies and programmes such as the provision of subsidized credits, establishment of rural and community banks (RCBs), the liberalization of the financial sector and the promulgation of PNDC Law 328 of 1991, that allowed the establishment of different types of non-bank financial institutions, including savings and loans companies, finance houses, and credit unions etc. (Nissanke et al., 1998).

Providing women with access to credit can turn around an entire economy and is proven to be more beneficial than providing credit to men for two reasons.

First, there is significant evidence that when a woman's business succeeds and she makes profit, it goes to her family, while men typically give only 50-70% of their income to their families (Grasmuck and Espinal 2000:240).). Men are more likely to use funds on leisure. They are also more mobile, and therefore more likely to default on loans. Studies show that children are better educated and cared for when women contribute income to the family (Grasmuck and Espinal, 2000). According to the Women's Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund reports women's increased income benefits their children, particularly in education, diet, healthcare, and clothing (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002).

Second, women are less risky in terms of loan default (Morduch, 1999). They tend to take out smaller loans than men, and invest the money in safe business ventures, usually close to home (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002). Women's businesses are typically smaller than men's, have fewer, if any, employees, and are more likely to rely on family members for support (Grasmuck and Espinal, 2000)

One of the often articulated rationales for supporting microfinance and the targeting of women by microfinance programs is that microfinance is an effective means for empowering women. By putting financial resources in the hands of women, microfinance institutions help level the playing field and promote gender equality.

Empowerment is defined as the processes by which women take control and ownership of their lives through expansion of their choices. Thus, it is the process of acquiring the ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability has previously been denied. The core elements of empowerment have been defined as agency (the ability to define one's

goals and act upon them), awareness of gendered power structures, self-esteem and self-confidence (Kabeer 2001).

Hashemi, Schuler, and Riley created a composite empowerment indicator based on eight

components: mobility, economic security, ability to make small purchases, ability to make larger purchases, involvement in major household decisions, relative freedom from domination within the family, political and legal awareness, and involvement in political campaigning and protests.

Problem statement 问题陈述

Microfinance institutions around the world have been quite creative in developing products and services that avoid barriers that have traditionally kept women from accessing formal financial services such as collateral requirements, male or salaried guarantor requirements, documentation requirements, cultural barriers, limited mobility, and literacy. Nevertheless, there are many criticisms or problems to the microfinance approach focused on women.

The first criticism is that microfinance creates a large debt for some poor women who are unable to repay the loans (Buss, 1999). Small businesses in Third World countries are subject to a great number of obstacles; for example, lack of adequate infrastructure, inability to access supplies needed for a business, flooded markets if enterprises are too similar, difficulties with money management due to improper schooling and lack of training or skill, and a special vulnerability to crises such as a death in the family or a medical emergency. Borrowing money is always a risk, but particularly so for the poor who are already extremely vulnerable to economic shock. Sometimes all it takes is a business failure or medical emergency to plunge a poor person into severe debt and even greater poverty.

Again, a challenge that women face with microfinance is that they have a double workload of running a business and childcare (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002). Traditionally, women have taken care of children and household work while the men earn income for the family. More and more women are now entering the public workforce, but they are still expected to assume responsibility for all domestic tasks (Grasmuck and Espinal, 2000). This creates an enormous double burden on many women.

1.3 Research question

It is in light of these problems that this particular study is undertaken for the purpose of finding answers to the following questions and also other relevant questions that might crop up in the course of the studies. Answers to these questions will provide a solid base for making recommendations for this research. Below are the main questions this study seeks to find answers to;

Do microfinance institutions empower or worsen market women?

What is the risk associated in providing market women with funds?

What are the challenges market women faces in paying back the loans?

Objectives of the study

The purpose of this study is to identify the problems and prospects of Microfinance Institutions' in providing microfinance to market women so as to enhance their empowerment.

The following objectives have been set;

To examine Microfinance Institutions in relation to market women's financing.

To examine how Microfinance help empower market women.

To suggest recommendations that ensures effective financing of market women.

Justification of the Study

It is generally accepted that women are disproportionately represented among the world's poorest people. In the 1995 Human Development Report, the UNDP reported that 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 per day are women. According to the World Bank's gender statistics database, women have a higher unemployment rate than men in virtually every country. In general, women also make up the majority of the lower paid, unorganized informal sector of most economies. These statistics are used to justify giving priority to increasing women's access to financial services on the grounds that women are relatively more disadvantaged than men. (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002)

Microfinance is much more than simply an income generation tool. By directly empowering poor people, particularly women, it has become one of the key driving mechanisms towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, specifically the overreaching target of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. (Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2001).

Access to financial services forms a fundamental basis on which many of the other essential interventions depend. Moreover, improvements in health care, nutritional advice and education can be sustained only when households have increased earnings and greater control over financial resources. Financial services thus reduce poverty and its effects in multiple, concrete ways. And the beauty of microfinance is that, as programs approach financial sustainability, they can reach far beyond the limits of scarce donor resources. Microfinance is not a mere financial instrument but a powerful tool for development to address multiple dimensions of poverty.

If the number of victims of extreme poverty and hunger is to be halved by the year 2015, then women have to be empowered to achieve this goal for themselves and their families.

Knowledge about contribution of microfinance would provide the basis for policies be geared toward streamlining the provision of microfinance to women to ensure the promotion of Women economic empowerment to enable reduce poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, hence the need for the study.

Limitation of the study

The limitations and the challenges I encountered whiles conducting this research which stuck the headway of the study. Some of the limitations are:

The extraordinary rate of illiteracy in community was a major problem for the research.

Due to the expensive nature of acquiring data, the research incurred some cost like transportation fee to obtain information, photocopies made and also visiting some web site for additional data

This research is limited to only Sunyani municipality and so data of this study would be limited. Which means the recommendation and conclusion might be limited to only this municipality.

Due to the financial and time constraints, the researcher was not able to cover more places for their problems to be addressed.

Lack of cooperation from the market women as well as the microfinance institutions because of competition.

Organisation of chapters

The project is in five different chapters and these chapters will be broken down into further sub-topics.

Chapter one gives an insight on the introduction of the topic. It is made up of the introduction, background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research questions, justification of study, and the organization of the chapters.

Chapter two is made up of the literature review. Thus, the introductory statement, theoretical or conceptual framework, empirical evidence of related works, and the institutional framework.

Chapter three is made up of the methodology used in the study. This chapter looks at the introductory statement, profile of the study area, study type, study variables, study population, and sampling size and sampling techniques, research design, data collection, tools/instruments, data analysis method and ethical consideration.

Chapter four, also talks about the introductory statement, analysis and presentation of data and discussion of results.

Chapter five being the last chapter discusses the introductory statement, summary, conclusions and recommendations.


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