Can Microfinance Work?: How to Improve Its Ethical Balance and Effectiveness

Can Microfinance Work?: How to Improve Its Ethical Balance and Effectiveness

by Lesley Sherratt


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Can Microfinance Work?: How to Improve Its Ethical Balance and Effectiveness by Lesley Sherratt

Microfinance began with the noble aim of alleviating poverty through the extension of small loans to poor borrowers, and has grown to now serve approximately 200,000,000 people-the majority of whom are female. Yet despite claims to the contrary, the practice has not been proven to have succeeded in either enriching or empowering its borrowers.

In a thorough-going ethical assessment of the industry, Can Microfinance Work? examines the central microfinance model and whether or not it is effective, the extent to which the practice creates the conditions for exploitation and coercion to occur, and whether the distribution of the benefits and burdens of microfinance is likely to be an ethical one. Author Lesley Sherratt argues for the establishment of a duty of care in microfinance in recognition of the vulnerability of the client base. She also examines the ethical dilemmas inherent in working in the informal sector, as well as microcredit's macro impact on economies. From there, Sherratt draws some wider lessons microfinance can offer anti-poverty developments in general.

Challengingly, the book considers how microfinance might be reformed to ensure it is practiced both more ethically and effectively, and in doing so, argues that only a part of the industry may survive in its current form. The bulk could instead bifurcate in to one of two camps, either scaling down to become predominantly savings rather than credit vehicles, probably subsidized; or scaling up to provide credit to small and medium enterprise lending operations. For the rest, it is argued that establishing a non-exploitative interest rate, ending the practice of group liability, and fully specifying a duty of care — with, if necessary, regulation developed to enforce these — are microfinance's urgent ethical priorities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199383191
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 01/15/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Lesley Sherratt lectures in global business ethics at King's College, London and is a Director of Temple Bar Investment Trust. Her degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics was from Oxford University, and her PhD on the ethics of microfinance from King's College, London. She was formerly CEO and CIO, Ark Asset Management Ltd; Investment Director, Save & Prosper and Fleming Flagship ranges of funds; Head of Global Portfolios and Director, Fleming Investment Management; Chair, US Smaller Companies Investment Trust; and a former Member, Microloan Foundation Advisory Board.

Table of Contents

I: Empirics

1. The Double-Edged Sword: The Microfinance Model and the Moral Hazards Inherent Within It

2. Poverty's Panacea or Snake Oil Salesmen: Does Microfinance Work?

II: Ethics

(i) 'Micro'-Ethics: The Ethics of the Practices of Microfinance

3. From Empowerment to Exploitation: MFIs and Their Borrowers

4. From Solidarity to Coercion: The Dynamics of the Group

5. The Dog Not Barking: A Duty of Care in Microfinance

(ii) 'Macro'-Ethics: The Ethics of the Industry of Microfinance

6. Silenced Stories: the Distribution of Benefits & Burdens within Microfinance

7. Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil: Microfinance and the Informal Economy

8. The Macro Impact of Microfinance

III: Making Microfinance More Ethical

9. Keeping the Good, Eliminating the Bad, Transforming the Ugly: How to Practice Microfinance Ethically

10. Wider Lessons: What We Can Learn from Microfinance for anti-poverty development efforts.

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