Microfinance

Micro-finance is a tool to address poverty and assist people to generate an income.

Inspired by the original idea of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Foundation has created a global network of 58 microfinance institution partners in 23 countries. With tiny loans, financial services and technology, they help the poor – mostly women – to start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. On the website are client success stories, an e-newsletter, books and publications, important links, a newsroom and a video room which provide a lot of information on microfinance (mostly in English, sometimes also in Arabic and Spanish).

  • The video Breaking Through shows the impact of microfinance and lives it has changed. The film is also available in an Arabic version.
  • "Improving Microfinance through Telecommunications" describes Village Phone – a powerful example of how poor rural people can sustainably benefit from information and communication technologies
  • Mifos is an open source technology for microfinance, which Grameen has implemented in several countries.

The International Food Policy Research Institute has several publications in various languages about poverty reduction and many other issues, especially in the food sector.

The SDC Agriculture and Food Security Network focuses on Poverty Orientation, dealing with themes related to poverty reduction that cut across other rural development areas. Current topics are Food Security, Livelihood Approaches, Poverty Reduction Approaches, Pro-poor Growth in Rural areas and HIV/AIDS.

  • The SDC resources section contains documents as well as CDs, videos and other media. It's not a comprehensive collection of documents but rather a selection of highlights from different sources, including relevant SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) documents. Some of the documents can be directly downloaded, others can be ordered at SDC or other organisations, or have to be bought. It also offers platforms for thematic discussion groups and Communities of Practice.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) has microfinance publications including training manuals (free to download) in a number of languages (English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Bahasa and Portuguese).

The Rural Finance Learning Centre aims to assist organisations in developing countries to build their capacity to deliver improved financial services – ones which meet the needs of rural households and businesses. They provide guidelines for trainers, online lessons, self-study guides, training tools (such as a 'marketing mix' board game) and videos.

Handicap International commissioned a study on the practices of funding for self-employment activities of people with disabilities (PWD), with a special focus on access to microfinance.

The overall goal of the study was to produce a framework document highlighting good practices, strategies, tools and operational methods that guarantee the efficiency and sustainability of self-employment projects for PWDs. This paper summarises the findings and good practices as presented in the framework document, based on the results of a literature review, a survey and field research. It is not a scientific paper, as it is primarily meant for practitioners.

In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of microfinance institutions and clients. However, microfinance services remain limited in rural areas which are often sparsely populated and poorly developed in terms of economic and physical infrastructure. Efforts are, therefore, needed to identify rural finance approaches -savings and lending systems- that respond to the needs and capacities of poorer clients and rural entrepreneurs. The publication from Agromisa and CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation), The Rural Finance Landscape, describes current savings, lending, and insurance practices, identifies the service providers working in the informal, semiformal and formal sector and discusses current approaches and methodologies. It targets those who want to know more about rural finance as well as development practitioners concerned with identifying the financial services most appropriate for their project or organisations. Available in English, French and Portuguese.

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nicolien 2015
Nicolien Wassenaar
Poverty & Income Generation Editor

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