Microfinance has long been considered a development strategy that can correct the failure of the global credit market and address the financial needs of the poor enabling them to create and run profitable business enterprises. The Microfinance Mirage argues that this neo-liberal oriented analysis overemphasises the economic argument whilst ignoring the cultural roots of inequality and subordination. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted among rural credit clients in the Northern region of Ethiopia, Esayas Bekele Geleta provides a nuanced critical analysis of microfinance challenging the common assumption that it facilitates the building of social capital, poverty reduction and the empowerment of women. Making a unique contribution to our further understanding of the microfinance industry the research shows that, in some cases, microfinance can result in the disintegration of pre-existing relationships and in the disruption and destruction of the livelihoods of the poor. Exploring the impact of microfinance in one of the poorest regions of sub-Saharan Africa, this book demonstrates its potential and problems and shows the complex and contradictory social and cultural environments in which projects are often located.
Esayas Bekele Geleta is a lecturer in sociology in Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Vancouver, Canada. He previously lectured in sociology in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and held a teaching fellow position in the University of Limerick, Ireland and a part time lecturer position in University College Cork. He also worked as an assistant editor of the Irish Journal of Sociology. The key areas of his current research and teaching include the political economy of development and underdevelopment, social justice, the sociology of human rights, globalisation, microfinance, the sociology of work, the sociology of race and ethnicity and the ethics and the politics of sociological research.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Introduction to microfinance; Microfinance in Africa: background to microfinance in Ethiopia; The politics of my fieldwork; The political economy of microfinance governance: the experience of ACSI; Social capital, microfinance and poverty reduction; Microfinance, women's empowerment and poverty reduction; Bibliography; Index.