THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Credit Worthiness of Poor Women: A Comparison of Some Minimalist Credit Programmes in Asia: A Preliminary Analysis
The recognition of credit as a powerful instrument for the alleviation of poverty in the developing countries has led to a multitude of programmes on agricultural credit, co-operatives, and integrated rural development in the past few decades. Agricultural or land development banks, commercial banks and cooperatives have sought “small borrowers” in theory but have, on the whole, failed to reach the poor, particularly women. The loan repayment rates in these programmes often have been very low which, together with below-market interest rates imposed by governments, has resulted in the stagnation of most third world credit institutions aimed at “small borrowers”. On the other hand, innovative Credit Delivery Systems (CDSs) for the poor or “poverty lending” has been on the increase in many developing countries over the last two or three decades. In stark contrast to the conventional credit programmes, these innovative experiments show. extremely high repayment rates. More importantly, they reveal that the standard stereotypes are wildly inaccurate: that women are more creditworthy than men and the poor more creditworthy than the non-poor. These experiments include the Bedan Kredit Kecamatan (BKK), MBM and YIS programmes in Indonesia, Grameen Bank and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Bangladesh, Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Pakistan, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Working Women’s Forum (WWF) in India, the Kababaihang Barangay of San Miguel, Bulacan (KBB) in the Philippines, Production Credit for Rural Women (pCRW) in Nepal, etc.