Publication: Holding the Door Open : Facilitating Access to Microcredit in the Benin Social Fund
During 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.
Link to Data Set
“Elder, John; Tovo, Maurizia. 2002. Holding the Door Open : Facilitating Access to Microcredit in the Benin Social Fund. Social Funds Innovation Updates; Vol. 2, No. 3. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/11830 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”