Case study

The Wider Social Impacts of BRAC's Group-based Lending in Rural Bangladesh: Group Dynamics and Participation in Public Life

Impact of BRAC's microfinance beyond the household domain
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This paper explores the extent of the impact - beyond the apparent effects in the household domain - on participants in BRAC's microfinance groups. The impact is measured on the following bases:

  • Based on quantitative evidence:
    • Group dynamics;
    • Participation in community life;
    • Participation in policy and politics;
    • Re-visioning of society.
  • Based on qualitative evidence:
    • Access to government programs;
    • Participation in political life;
    • Trust and mistrust;
    • Expressing voice and exercising agency;
    • Re-visioning of society.

The author states that membership in the BRAC led to positive changes in the lives of many women in terms of their knowledge, behavior and trust in the public domain, specifically in relation to:

  • The members in microfinance groups;
  • Other community members;
  • Government officials;
  • Elected officials.

The author further analyzes various constraints on positive impact such as:

  • Women not participating actively in any form of politics, apart from voting;
  • Joint-decision making driving voting decisions and, in some cases, voting as per their husbands' choices;
  • Dowry remaining a practice;
  • Prejudices in determining the agency and opportunities enjoyed by members of the social groups.

The paper concludes that more emphasis must be given to the promotion of new ways of thinking and acting in the domain of social intermediation.

About this Publication

By Kabeer, N. & Matin, I.