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Zimbabwe Association of Microfinance Institutions (ZAMFI)

The impact of microfinance on enterprises and spefically those owned by women

M.C. Halimana, Principal researcher and B.M. Zwizwai Technical advisor

Zimbabwe Association of Microfinance Institutions (ZAMFI)

July 2004

SARPN acknowledges permission from ZAMFI to post this document.
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This study examines the impact of micro-finance on enterprises and livelihoods of women and other poor. It is the product of concern with the extent to which the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and empowerment of women can be achieved through micro-finance.

The study is a reflection of the current interest among both policy makers and practitioners in the employment creation, poverty alleviation and empowerment potential of micro-enterprises. It also examines the shift in thinking over the years among opinion makers in the major development and donor institutions in the world. It argues that micro-finance institutions filled the gap in thinking between those arguing for less state intervention in the provision of credit for the poor through state and donor funded development institutions, and those arguing for the liberalization of the provision of credit through private moneylenders.

The study proceeded from the assumption that in societies characterised by gender inequalities, women`s enterprises are characterised by unequal access to resources, and in addition women lack control, at the household level, of the income they generate. Added to this is the unequal access to social capital between the sexes.

To this end, the impact of MFI loans on the development of micro-enterprises and how this affects the welfare and empowerment of beneficiaries was investigated. This was done at the enterprise, household and individual levels. The study also examined the lending practices and procedures of MFIs both from their own perspectives and that of the beneficiaries. In particular the problems the latter faced were brought out. The study also sought the views of ZAMFI as the umbrella organisation of MFIs. These views are part of the report.

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