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Risk, Vulnerability, Assets and The Role of Financial Services in Reducing Vulnerability: A Study of Women Clients of CARD, Bay Laguna, Philippines

This paper explores the impacts of financial services for the poor on selected non-income dimensions of poverty -assets, vulnerability and risk. Examines a branch of Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) in San Pablo City, Philippines and looks at: * Groups among the poor microfinance programs reach * the nature of risks confronting poor clients; * How financial services improve clients' capacity to manage, control, and build up assets as means for coping with or preparing for risks; * How microfinance services enable clients to use assets to maintain a minimum economic threshold; and how the social intermediation process empower women clients. Using focus group discussions (FGDs), in-depth interviews of a sample of program clients and program dropouts, and interviews and workshops with key program staff, the paper examines: * The relationship among poverty, risk, vulnerability, and assets; * The relationship between financial services, asset accumulation, and reduced vulnerability for the poor; * How social intermediation combined with financial services contributes to reduced vulnerability and increased empowerment of women clients. The findings reveal: * That there are risks that are not as context specific but cut across areas, gender, and socio-economic strata; * How financial services help the poor prepare for or cope with risks through better management and use of assets; * Low risk nature of microenterprise activities.


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