Towards a plural history of microfinance

James Copestake, Susan Johnson, Mateo Garcia Cabello, Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Robin Gravesteijn, Julie Humberstone, Max Nino-Zarazua, Matthew Titus

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The paper reviews different ways of telling the history of microfinance. We first contrast a mainstream and mostly positive narrative with a radical critique, illustrating differences with reference to India. We then argue for a more inductive and plural account, drawing on a set of doctoral research studies to illustrate variation in the evolution of microfinance experience according to social relations among users, organisational culture of suppliers, and the political economy of regulation. A global narrative of movement towards total financial inclusion - benign or otherwise - will not do justice to this diversity, nor should the history of microfinance be dominated by one overarching global perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Journal of Development Studies
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2016


  • microfinance, financial inclusion, pluralism, India


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