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Microfinance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh Paperback – March 7, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (March 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816670951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816670956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"It is precisely because the microcredit mantra has been so endlessly repeated, often in place of actual empirical documentation to back its claims, that Microfinance and Its Discontents is so compelling. This is an outstanding, courageous, and path-breaking piece of scholarship; one that will doubtless unsettle the microcredit establishment, and by extension, key presumptions of neoliberal research agendas." —Kamala Visweswaran, University of Texas, Austin



"Lamia Karim has done an excellent job by juxtaposing facts against myths, lies against truths and objective research against subjective hagiographies. . . . I believe this book is an important addendum to the growing literature that demonstrates and deconstructs the lies and myths about microcredit and NGO business in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the Third World." —countercurrents.org

"Karim's book is a timely contribution to the debate on microfinance, and is a challenging and engaging read for the specialist as well as the lay reader. I believe that her ideas will serve as a guideline for future researchers’ and policy-makers inquiries into the gender aspect of microfinance." —Soumya Mishra, Governance across Borders

"Karim’s book serves as a stark and timely reminder of the value of ethnographic research in offering a deeper understanding of how developmental interventions in specific institutional and local contexts may reproduce or even exacerbate structural inequalities, and also in informing the strategies that seek to counter these inequalities." —Economic & Political Weekly

About the Author

Lamia Karim is associate professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Oregon, Eugene.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maceo Eric Culberson on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is groundbreaking work. It reveals that underneath all the hype and cheerleading for microfinance, there is a different, and less hopeful, story. This book is set in the home country of Mohammed Yunus, who received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with his Grameen Bank, for developing microfinance. Karim shows that microfinance in Bangladesh has really served mainly as a way for those who run microfinance institutions to make money and status, while the women who are supposed to be served have found increasing negative pressures on their time and meager resources. Microfinance, rather than helping women, has only reinforced the patriarchal social structures in Bangladesh, leaving women with even more obligations than before and making no real dent in poverty. It's no wonder that Yunus' legacy is being challenged today in Bangladesh. If you want to know about microfinance, buy this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Munir Quddus on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
Lamia is a talented young scholar and this book is an important addition to the literature on microfinance (MF). However, it is one-sided and often ignores the many benefits of MF found not just in Bangladesh but across the 50 plus nations where it has spread, including right here in the US (Manhattan, Nebraska, and other US cities now have fledgling Grameen Bank offices). Why one-sided? For example, in her recommendations she speaks of a "governmental oversight in the interest rates the NGOs charge." (page 201) The fact is that in Bangladesh, all NGOs involved in developmental MF, including the Noble Prize Winning Grameen Bank have been under government supervision for many years! None of these can charge an interest rates above what the government body and the Central Bank approves! The GB charges 20% annual interest rates on the traditional loans; this has been approved by its Board of Directors and the government supervisory body PKSF. Like the board of a credit union, the GB board is made up of mostly borrowing women elected by other members, who started with small loans to dig themselves out of poverty. This is an independent board, and have the option to lower interest rates, but have repeatedly chosen not to do so! A scholarly study should recognize these facts. The (largely) women members play an important role in the management and policy of the institution.

There are other studies that have looked at the MF operations of BRAC and ASA, the other two major development MF NGOs in Bangladesh. Together these three serve over 20 million customers with billions of dollars of loans and member savings accumulated. The micro loans are collateral free and all transactions are free of "legal" documents. These are remarkable numbers, in countries otherwise infested with corruption.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Annie.Ng on January 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
As a long time proponent of microfinance, I was very skeptical about this book. I had to read the first 3 chapters for school, but ended up reading the whole book. The book provides a difficult yet realistic aspect of microfinance in a country where NGOs have taken on the role of local governance. The author, having carried out her research in Bangladesh, exposed the "other side" of microfinance that we often do not hear of through different narratives, many of which are disturbingly true. If you're interested in international development, microfinance or women development, this book is a must read! Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an incredible book written for a scholarly audience but accessible and quite powerful for those of us who aren't in the world of academia. Despite her research orientation, the author (full disclosure: a college friend of mine a long time ago) cannot help but use a few choice exclamation marks when the subject calls for it--like the story of the single mother of a toddler whose house was literally dissembled before her eyes and all her belongings carted away to settle a loan with a balance of just over $2. Karim learns the truth because she speaks the language and knows the terrain since as a native of Bangladesh and Pakistan. Microfinance was meant to inspire women's empowerment but instead harms women, with high interest, often unaffordable loans usually controlled by male family members,and collection procedures from Hell.NGOs promoting these loans should be ashamed; instead they are awarded the Nobel Prize.This is an important book and honestly I could not put it down.
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