Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa | eBook
Responding to the Voices of Poor People
Irene Banda Mutalima
2022 | 90pp pb | ISBN: 978-1-914454-50-9
Poverty reduction through microfinance is tied to the belief that access to credit enables poor people to increase business earnings and improve livelihoods. Often the church has embraced microfinance as part of its theology of social transformation. Microfinance practitioners therefore, have to prudently manage their institutions and ensure improvements in poor people’s lives – a complex combination given that livelihood changes can only be confirmed by people experiencing poverty. This mini book comes out of my research to investigate how poor people can inform microfinance practitioners for improved livelihoods. I interacted with the Chinyika Community in rural Zimbabwe, and the COSUN women’s group of peri-urban Zambia, to allow their voices to inform lessons for microfinance practitioners.
The key finding of the research is the value of genuine ‘dialogue space’ where poor people can influence beneficial actions. To counter the challenges of limited capacity to recognise root causes of poverty, and lack of informed competence to negotiate livelihood solutions, the research recommended community leadership to engender safe community dialogue spaces for individual and collective agency supported by structures that enable recourse; and the ability to identify root problems and trigger appropriate actions before livelihoods deteriorate. The research identified the Church as one such credible community leader.