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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-06) Hackett, Julie ; Sum, June-WeiThis note explores how a community-driven approach has successfully made inroads in Sierra Leone, a country racked by internal violence and without a tradition of widespread civic participation. By mobilizing village members to work together to rebuild physical infrastructure destroyed by the war, the World Bank's National Social Action Project is also rebuilding trust and collective action amongst a divided population. In particular, the project targeted areas not previously serviced by Government, 'newly accessible areas,' (those which were under rebel control until the end of the war in 2002); as well as the most vulnerable population groups within those areas.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-03) Elder, John ; Tovo, MauriziaDuring preparation of the Benin Social Fund Project, all levels of society indicated that lack of access to credit was a major problem for poor people. At the same time, there was reluctance to put in a micro-credit component, as an assessment of this type of component in social funds had yielded mixed results. The Bank was already supporting the Second Rural Credit Project, providing technical support to a national association of cooperative savings and credit societies to increase the availability of credit. Nonetheless, the Government, having identified micro-credit as a priority, was keen to have micro-credit activities. To balance the somewhat conflicting points of view, the project team decided to develop financial intermediation services for low-income groups, without providing the actual credit. To take into account the heterogeneity of institutions involved in microfinance at the time, the unequal distribution of financial services in the country (especially urban/rural), and the characteristics of different types of clients, the microfinance component was divided into three sub-components, two dealing with formal financial systems, the other with informal ones. The project has been able to fill a gap between poor households and formal credit sources. Critical for the success were the already-existing formal credit organizations that offered financial services relevant to the needs of poor groups. While expertise on microfinance is hard to find, results suggest that intermediation only works where credit is actually available, in a form usable by the target population. Notably, targets should be adjusted to focus on what is important to the beneficiaries.