Empowering poor women through microfinance: A case study from Vietnam
How can an NGO best ensure that it empowers poor women economically through microfinance? Through qualitative research in Vietnam, the NGO studied was found to place much emphasis on financial sustainability while largely ignoring the needs of the target groups and local implementers. The requirements for financial sustainability were incompatible with adequately reaching parts of the target groups, which included the poorest of the poor. Several aspects of program design and implementation deterred them from borrowing or did not allow them to use the loans as productively as desired. Although the program reached large groups of women well, it did not empower the target groups economically to the extent intended. In order to ensure that women are economically empowered through microfinance, target groups need to be able to participate in shaping the program, judging the degree to which it is successful and deciding potential changes.