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Tackling the Downside: Social Capital, Women's Empowerment and Microfinance in Cameroon Image

Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

Tackling the Downside: Social Capital, Women's Empowerment and Microfinance in Cameroon

Tackling the Downside: Social Capital, Women's Empowerment and Microfinance in Cameroon

Summary

This paper presents the case of microfinance programs that are currently promoted by the 'financial self-sustainability paradigm' where women's participation in groups is promoted as a key means of increasing financial sustainability and is assumed to automatically empower them.The paper argues that this optimism about intrinsic simultaneous benefits tends to undermine the program aims of empowerment, financial sustainability and poverty targeting.Further, the paper examines the experience of seven microfinance programs in Cameroon and collects evidence to indicate that microfinance programs that build social capital do indeed make a significant contribution to women's empowerment.

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