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Course Details

Course Number: 90-858

Microfinance and Development

Units: 6

Microfinance provides financial services to the poor and has often been touted as a model example of a social entrepreneurship innovation that addresses both social and economic problems. However, it has been under scrutiny of late in light of concerns over consumer protection and increasing commercialization of the field, and questions remain about its effectiveness in lifting its clients out of poverty. The class will address these issues from both a philosophical and developmental perspective and provide in-depth discussion on the emerging issues in the microfinance world.

The class will be organized into three sections. The first section introduces the un-banked cohort and explains the need to design financial tools that specifically target this population. Section II focuses on what works, what doesn’t and why. The section provides analytical frameworks that underpin the design of microfinance tools and identifies areas where challenges and controversies exist in microfinance. The final section documents creative and innovative approaches that are currently being mainstreamed and provides insights on how the microfinance frontier could be extended.