The Microfinance Revolution

The Microfinance Revolution

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Around the world, a revolution is occurring in finance for low-income people. The microfinance revolution is delivering financial services to the economically active poor on a large scale through competing, financially self-sufficient institutions. In a few countries this has already happened; in others it is under way. The emerging microfinance industry has profound implications for social and economic development. For the first time in history, capital is well on its way to being democratized.
'The Microfinance Revolution', in three volumes, is aimed at a diverse readership - economists, bankers, policymakers, donors, and social scientists; microfinance practitioners and specialists in local finance and rural and urban development; and members of the general public interested in development. This first volume, 'Sustainable Finance for the Poor', focuses on the shift from government- and donor-subsidized credit systems to self-sufficient microfinance institutions providing voluntary savings and credit services.

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Publié le 01 juin 2001
Nombre de visites sur la page 43
EAN13 9780821383384
Langue English
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The Microfinance
Revolution
Sustainable Finance for the Poor© 2001 by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/THE WORLD BANK
1818 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20433 USA
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America
First printing May 2001
The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this book are entirely those of the
author and should not be attributed in any manner to Open Society Institute or to the World
Bank, its affiliated organizations, or members of its Board of Executive Directors or the countries
they represent
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Robinson, Marguerite S., 1935–
The microfinance revolution: sustainable finance for the poor / Marguerite S. Robinson.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 0–8213–4524–9
1. Microfinance—Developing countries. 2. Microfinance. 3. Financial institutions—Develop-
ing countries. 4. Poor—Developing countries. I. Title.
HG178.33.D44 R63 2001
332.2—dc21
2001026146
Edited, designed, and laid out by Communications Development Incorporated, Washington,
D.C. and San Francisco, CaliforniaThe Microfinance
Revolution
Sustainable Finance for the Poor
Lessons from Indonesia
The Emerging Industry
Marguerite S. Robinson
The World Bank, Washington, D.C.
Open Society Institute, New YorkPraise for The Microfinance Revolution
“Dr. Robinson has written a magnificent work that provides a jolt of energy as well as
wise guidance to the fledgling microfinance industry.This book will quickly become re-
quired reading for students and professionals in and around the microfinance industry,
for donors and government agencies, and for investors.This is also the first book that,
through thoughtful analysis, vivid images, and extensive research, will beckon commer-
cial bankers and the rest of the ‘real world’ to sit up and take interest in microfinance. It
will thus be a potent force in fusing the small scale, donor-driven microfinance of today
with the formal financial systems of tomorrow—systems that will provide high-quality
financial services on a permanent and ever increasing scale to millions of poor house-
holds around the world.”
—Elizabeth Littlefield, Chief Executive Officer, Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest; Director,
World Bank; and former Managing Director, JP Morgan
“The Microfinance Revolution is a magnificent contribution to the theory and practice
of international development. It is a much-needed wake-up call for economists who
have long pooh-poohed the potential of microfinance institutions for promoting sav-
ings and investment and alleviating poverty. Likewise, it will alert advocates of subsi-
dized microfinance that the financial needs of the vast majority of the poor can be
met by commercially based microlending.”
—David E. Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography, Harvard
University
“Marguerite Robinson has produced a major work that will unquestionably lie at the
very center of microfinance literature for many years to come. Dr. Robinson is
uniquely qualified, having spent many years living in tiny villages as an anthropolo-
gist, seeing informal finance as it happens, and having spent many years advising top
policymakers on how to design effective financial services for the poor, most notably
in Indonesia with Bank Rakyat Indonesia projects. Her account of the paradigm shift
in microfinance is both exhaustively researched and provocative. She has a wonderful
ear for stories; her book is full of marvelous phrases, excerpts, and anecdotes from the
world of poor people’s finance, in addition to being a wellspring of quantitative doc-
umentation for the trends about which she writes. Highly recommended!”
—Robert Peck Christen, Senior Adviser, Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest;Academic
Director, Microfinance Training Program, Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado
“The Microfinance Revolution is an ambitious achievement that will be the definitive work
on microfinance now and for some time to come. In clear, convincing, and often el-
egant language, Marguerite Robinson gives us the fruits of her deep experience and
painstaking research.This book provides the most complete statement existing on how
microfinance arose, how it works, and why it matters. The Microfinance Revolution views
microfinance from the commercial or financial systems perspective. Robinson sets mi-
crofinance in its correct place as one important tool in the ‘poverty alleviation tool-
box.’ In so doing she dispels the fuzzy myths surrounding the image of microfinanceas a panacea for poverty. Every microfinance professional will want a copy of this work
as a comprehensive reference for the field. Every policymaker or donor will be remiss
if he or she makes decisions about microfinance without first internalizing Dr. Robin-
son’s messages.”
—Elisabeth Rhyne, Senior Vice President,ACCIÓN International; former Director, Office of Mi-
croenterprise Development, U.S.Agency for International Development; author, Mainstreaming
Microfinance: How Lending to the Poor Began, Grew and Came of Age in Bolivia
“The Microfinance Revolution is a tour de force remarkable both for the breadth of its
vision and for the wealth of experience it captures. Dr. Robinson folds page after page
of telling information about real people and their financial behavior, and about real
institutions and their achievements, into a vigorously argued—and sometimes con-
troversial—synthesis.Anyone interested in financial services for poor people should
read it.”
—Richard Rosenberg, Senior Adviser, Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest
“Marguerite Robinson’s book succeeds admirably in presenting and analyzing the fun-
damentals of microlending and mobilizing savings among the poor. In distilling the
essence of microfinance, Dr. Robinson demonstrates with extraordinary clarity that
the application of commercial principles to microfinance ensures the long-lasting ca-
pacity of institutions to reach those previously excluded from financial services.This
book combines the detailed, painstaking research of a noted scholar with the experi-
ences of successful microfinance institutions around the globe, and provides a view of
remarkable scope and exceptional weight. Dr. Robinson’s work is not only an essen-
tial contribution to our current understanding of microfinance, but also a key resource
for laying out the future of this field.”
—María Otero, President and Chief Executive Officer,ACCIÓN International
“If you read Finance at the Frontier, published in 1991, you should read The Microfinance
Revolution, published in 2001. If you did not read Finance at the Frontier and you seek
an authoritative source about microfinance, you should still read The Microfinance Rev-
olution.”
—J.D.Von Pischke, President, Frontier Finance International; author, Finance at the Frontier
“Marguerite Robinson has spent 20 years at the cutting edge of microfinance. In this
book Marguerite gives us a history lesson and a guide on how to build commercial
finance that fits the needs of the world’s poor majority. Policymakers, finance leaders,
and anyone who wants to join this revolution in banking must read this book.”
—Nancy M. Barry, President,Women’s World Banking
“In the past five years the enormous promise of access to capital as an effective tool
for the world’s poor has erupted into the world’s consciousness. But the facts have often
come intertwined with myth and legend, until oft-repeated misinformation threat-
ens today to debase the accomplishments of truth. In this fog Marguerite Robinson’s
book, The Microfinance Revolution, arrives as a beacon. In it she combines her exten-Praise for The Microfinance Revolution (continued)
sive first-hand experience, gained initially in Asia and then around the world, with the
intellectual rigor of the first-rate scholar she also is.The result is a rare, comprehen-
sive look at microfinance that is long on analysis and short on sound bites. By asking
the right questions and seeking the tough answers around the globe, she expands our
understanding even though we in the field might from time to time squirm in our
seats. In the process she has presented all of us who are seriously committed to the
field—practitioners, policymakers, academics, public servants, and most of all, the
poor of the world—a wonderful gift of intellect and expertise.”
—Michael Chu, Chair, Capital Markets; former President and Chief Executive Office,AC-
CIÓN International; former Chairman of the Board, BancoSol
“This book tells a long overdue story—that of commercial microfinance institutions. It
highlights the world’s most efficient rural microfinance institution, Bank Rakyat Indonesia’s
microbanking system. Marguerite Robinson provides extensive analysis of the remark-
able traits that have made microbanking at BRI an unprecedented success, detailing its
policies, creative mode of operations and incentives for clients and staff, and training pro-
grams.This program has achieved massive outreach to millions of low-income clients,
providing clients with both savings and credit services.All this has been accomplished in
the past decade without subsidies; in fact, it is a highly profitable operation. BRI’s path-
breaking achievements have often been overshadowed by other, overpublicized programs.
The Microfinance Revolution is a timely publication that clearly demonstrates the tremen-
dous potential embedded in well-designed microfinance programs.”
—Jacob Yaron, Senior Rural Finance Adviser,World Bank; author, Successful Rural Finan-
cial Institutions
“For more than 20 years Marguerite Robinson has been at the forefront of the ‘micro-
finance revolution’ she documents so lucidly and persuasively in this book. She was deeply
involved in the transformation and development of Bank Rakyat Indonesia’s mi-
crobanking (unit desa) system, now the largest microfinance institution in the world with
more than 20 million clients.This book brings together the author’s wealth of practice-
based wisdom and draws on her experience of working with institutions all over the
world. It is a valuable, important, and necessary addition to the library of anyone seri-
ously interested in microfinance.”
—Graham A. N.Wright, Programme Director, MicroSave-Africa; author, Microfinance Systems
“Marguerite Robinson has written a wonderful book. Its declared aim is to make the
case for large-scale commercial microfinance, a cause that Dr. Robinson champions
with passion, logic, and plentiful examples from her years of experience. But in the
process she sheds light on a host of important and contentious issues in microfinance,
and the outcome is a work that will enormously enrich the debates it is bound to en-
gender.”
—Stuart Rutherford, Chairman, SafeSave; author, The Poor and Their MoneyThis book is dedicated to all those who have led the microfinance
revolution around the world.
I add a special, personal dedication to those in Indonesia who developed
large, financially self-sufficient microfinance institutions. For the first time in
history, they made commercial microbanking available on a large scale to
low-income people.
Ali Wardhana
Sugianto, in memoriam
Kamardy Arief
I Gusti Made Oka
Sri Adnyani OkaAbout the author
Marguerite S. Robinson is a social anthropologist and internationally recognized expert
on microfinance. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and served
as professor of anthropology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Brandeis
University before joining the Harvard Institute for International Development, where she
worked from 1978–2000. She has worked extensively in rural areas and among the
urban poor in India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia—where she served for many years as an
adviser to the Ministry of Finance and to Bank Rakyat Indonesia. She has also worked
in Latin American and Africa, advising governments, banks, and donors, and is the au-
thor of many papers and books on development and microfinance.