Developing Countries: Microfinance

International Development written question – answered on 27th January 2011.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Labour, Walsall South

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of microfinance projects in contributing to progress towards Millennium Development Goal Three: to promote gender equality and empower women.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

Financial inclusion programmes supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) demonstrate the positive impact that microfinance can have on women's empowerment. For example, DFID supports the Kashf Foundation in Pakistan, which provides financial services to women from low income communities. An assessment of the programme found that: 60% of clients took out loans to start new businesses; 34% of long-term clients experienced improvement in their economic situation; two-thirds increased their savings; and women's increased ability to contribute to the family income improved their status within the household.

We cannot assume, however, that women's empowerment is an automatic outcome of microfinance programmes. DFID is producing a toolkit to strengthen the design, implementation and measurement of programmes to empower women through improved financial inclusion. The toolkit will be launched in spring 2011.

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