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A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh

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Abstract

Reports of the success of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh have led to rapid growth in funding for microfinance. But has the Grameen Bank been cost-effective? This article compares output with subsidy for the bank in a present-value framework. For the timeframe 1983–97, subsidy per person-year of membership in Grameen was about $20, and subsidy per dollar-year borrowed was about $0.22. Although the article does not measure consumer surplus for Grameen users, the evidence in the literature suggests that surplus probably exceeds subsidy. The Grameen Bank — if not necessarily other microlenders — was probably a worthwhile social investment.

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