Finance Against Poverty Volume 1

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More than one billion people around the world live in poverty; most of them live in developing countries. The idea that these people might improve their living standards by becoming micro-entrepreneurs – and that financial institutions should support their initiative with small loans – has found many supporters over the last decade.

This book, Finance Against Poverty, examines this theory and reviews the practical results in seven countries. It is published in two volumes:

  • Volume 1 offers an in-depth analysis of the theory and practice of microfinance, as well as policy recommendations for practitioners in the field.
  • Volume 2 presents the empirical evidence from seven developing countries: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi and Sri Lanka.

Both volumes provide a wealth of information and research on the impacts of savings and credit on productivity, employment, poverty levels and socio-political relations.

With its detailed assessment of both the benefits and limitations of financial intervention, Finance Against Poverty is an important text for those studying development, poverty reduction, social welfare and finance. It tackles the controversies about intervention in the financial market – when and where is it justified? What kind of intervention – direct intervention, subsidy, regulation or what?

Volume 1 covers the following topics:

  1. Why development finance institutions exist: market failure versus government failure
  2. Financial performance and sustainability: an economist’s analysis (not for the non-mathematical)
  3. The impact on production and technology
  4. Finance for the poor: impacts on poverty, vulnerability and deprivation
  5. The politics of financial intermediation for the poor
  6. The management of financial institutions for the poor
  7. Growth versus equity?

Broadly speaking, the authors conclude that if credit is compared with the other potential weapons against rural poverty - social safety nets, employment generation programmes, investment in primary health and education - credit is the only one which places a tangible capital asset in the hands of the poor; and equipment investment is still, in both rich and poor countries, the key to development. The caveats for regarding credit as an anti-poverty instrument are that, first, it must be properly administered and, second, profitable projects must exist. This latter condition is heavily influenced by government policy.

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