Microcredit: A Way to Self-Reliance

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Figure 2 comes from Kiva, the San Francisco-based microfinance institution, and is not a common image when analyzing the vast amount of material on and the practice of microcredit and microfinance, which almost exclusively focuses on women. As of May 2008, microcredit’s most popular form, the Grameen Bank has 1.5 million borrowers, 97% of which are female (Ahmed 2008:128). Harper suggests that the case for women relies on the fact that women tend to have less access to anything, and find it hard to resist the pressures of repayment are more likely to accept routine standardized conditions of borrowing and repayment, and are considered more predictable in terms of customer behaviour (Harper 2011:55). Perhaps this illustrates a far too simplistic view on gender patterns of microfinance, but it does not speak to the barriers that men have in attempting to gain access to MFIs, which are geared predominately towards women. The borrower is a Yemeni man in his late 20s that is asking for a loan to purchase construction materials to renovate his family home. The loan activity itself is arguably not an economic venture, but it is important nonetheless. Kiva attempts to do micro-lending a little bit differently, by allowing borrowers access to capital for a multitude of reasons and then categorizing the activities based on subject matter such as Adnan, Figure 2’s subject. Kiva also strongly emphasizes ‘the human connection factor,’ being able to see and get to know borrowers through personable profiles. Nonetheless, Kiva appears to generally operate as any other MFIs, with extensive coverage on the location and conditions of the borrower and rate of return. Now, because Adnan’s loan activity is not inherently economic, questions on repaymen...

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