Re-thinking Microfinance Practices: Lesson Learned for Sustainable Islamic Microfinance Institutions
Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance, Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar-Pakistan
The last decade witnessed the popularity and appreciation of microfinance practices, against poverty alleviation, all across developing and underdeveloped countries. However, there is still deficiency of rigorous studies, to affirm the claims of microfinance products and services against the alleviation of absolute poverty. Over three decades have been passed yet even the champion of microfinance could not prove the effectiveness of microfinance services across their different operational regions consistently. This paper aims to investigate what are the fundamental flaws resulting in unsuccessful or ineffective microfinance operations against poverty. There are numerous psychological, experimental and empirical studies suggesting that poor are often involved in excessive borrowing behaviors. Thus the demand of the poor for credit and recovery rates as a proxy of successful operations are misleading indicators resulting from the psychological behaviors and ‘social and peer pressure’ respectively. The literature further suggests that irrespective of the financing methodology (whether conventional or Islamic) there is less chance of success for microfinance due to many technical reasons. Moreover, microfinance often result in destroying social capital and solidarity, pushing the poor to pay the full cost of credit supply and promoting the financers’ interest while less attention is paid to transfer the benefits of microfinance institutions to financially excluded class. Findings of the study caution stakeholders to rethink about poverty alleviation models which should be feasible and sustainable to alleviate poverty effectively on a wider socioeconomic scale.
Keywords: Microfinance, Poverty, Financial Exclusion, Financial Services.