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SAA 2001-01: Operationalizing Microfinance: Women and Craftwork in Ifugao, Upland Philippines

In the 1990s, microfinance has emerged as the leading development strategy adopted to alleviate poverty and empower the 'poor', particularly women. Views differ, however, on the extent to which access to financial services can enhance participants' quality of life. This paper addresses this ongoing debate by analyzing a new (mid-1997) microfinance program in the northern Philippines established by the Central Cordillera Agricultural Programme (CECAP). Focusing on women's work in crafts, this paper argues that CECAP has initially focused on achieving financial self-sustainability within the short time frame allotted to the project, rather than emphasizing social change objectives. In so doing, primarily those women with already existing businesses or microentrepreneurs, not the 'poor', are benefiting from the system; and many women are behind in their loan repayments. The fluctuating demand for crafts prevents entrepreneurs from passing on gains to small producers. By stressing timely loan repayments and not considering the broader socioeconomic and class infrastructure, CECAP's microfinance program has failed to build borrower?s collective agency and empowerment. This paper suggests that for microfinance to contribute to the needs of its members, programs must enfold social initiatives other than credit

PinoyME Foundation
Authors Keywords
Milgram, B. Lynne; microfinance; poverty alleviation; women;
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Published in 2001 and available in the Human Organization or can be downloaded as full text Downloaded 1,270 times since November 25, 2011