Aspects of outreach: a framework for discussion of the social benefits of microfinance

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Abstract

Wide agreement about the goal of microfinance—to improve the welfare of the poor—has not led to wide agreement about how best to achieve that goal. To aid discussion, I propose a framework for outreach—the social benefits of microfinance—in terms of six aspects: worth, cost, depth, breadth, length, and scope. The framework encompasses both the poverty approach to microfinance and the self-sustainability approach. The poverty approach assumes that great depth of outreach can compensate for narrow breadth, short length, and limited scope. The self-sustainability approach assumes that wide breadth, long length, and ample scope can compensate for shallow depth. I show how to use the framework for BancoSol of Bolivia. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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