Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Claims-based Approach to Microfinance: Reframing the For-Profit vs. Poverty-Lending Debate through the Application of Human Rights Based Development Principles
by Wiersma, Anna Elyse, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2015, 170; 10305867
Abstract (Summary)

While microfinance was once widely identified as a new “silver bullet” for poverty alleviation, the practice has faced increasing criticism in the 21st century concerning its actual impact as a development tool. Using results from fieldwork with microfinance self-help groups in South India, the results of this dissertation first defend the useful, but limited role that microfinance can play in poverty-reduction. The dissertation then proposes a way to transcend the current debate over the proper provision of microfinance services, as the two major approaches (poverty-lending and financial systems) are both found lacking in terms of utilizing microfinance as a tool for socio-economic empowerment.

Building on Peter Uvin’s conceptualization of “human rights-based development” (HRDBP), and its political and structural definition of poverty, this dissertation argues that a rights-based approach (RBA) to microfinance is the essential re-defining lens the industry needs in order to truly operate as a mechanism for socio-economic empowerment of the poor. This approach calls for a clear shift in both the way that microfinance’s role in poverty-reduction is viewed, and in the implementation of microfinance itself; overall, a claims-based approach would apply microfinance as a tool, where appropriate, to address gaps in rights-enjoyment, while also intentionally creating the space for its implementation within broader community development programming and rights-based advocacy activities.

Keywords/Key Phrases: human rights-based development, microfinance, self-help group-bank linkage programme, rights-based approach, India

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mills, Sophie
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations
Keywords: Human rights-based development, India, Microfinance, Rights-based approach, Self-help group-bank linkage programme
Publication Number: 10305867
ISBN: 978-1-369-49431-0
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