This study strives to examine how microfinance activities can be successfully applied in the developed world. This is done through a field study in New York City. Throughout interviews and observations with three of the largest actors in New York: Acción USA, Grameen America and Project Enterprise, as well as interviews with their clients, the lending processes and key characteristics of the organizations have been mapped. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been interviewed on the general opinion of microfinance in the US.
Previous theory elaborates on some of the major challenges with implementing microfinance activities in the developed world, such as lack of funding and cultural differences hindering the lending processes to be carried out as they are in the developing world. Henceforth, problems regarding regulation, awareness and outreach are discussed.
Throughout the observation of the institutions we can confirm that some of the challenges brought up in theory actually are apparent. We do, however, question the criticism towards the use of group-based lending programs in the developed world. Our study does, in contrast to previous research, imply that the concept does work as well in the US as it does in developing countries.
Since this is a case study based on the observations of only a few organizations, it is precarious to draw any general conclusions based upon the findings. Indications of key success factors are, though, group-based lending programs, non-financial services, creating awareness, financial sustainability, savings as funding, standardized regulations and increased transparency. Finally we advocate focus on job creation to obtain acknowledgement.
Author: Bredberg, Sofia | Ek, Sara