Social Inclusion through Microenterprise Development
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Chapter 18: Microfinance in the Netherlands
Margot Lobbezoo* National context Microfinance has always existed in the Netherlands. By the end of the nineteenth century, the first cooperative banks had become active, focusing on poor farmers, and as early as 1915 the government had started to support small and medium enterprises with a guarantee facility. Microfinance1 has continued to grow over the years with many initiatives being developed. Examples include a successful government programme supporting people on welfare to start their own company with loans, income support and business development services, the access to overdraft facilities for small enterprises from the general banks and several private initiatives. Moreover, informal rotating saving and credit associations (ROSCAs) have been active for many years in the Netherlands, particularly amongst the migrant community. Financial inclusion is achieved in the Netherlands through a covenant on basic bank accounts signed by the major Dutch banks (covering 95 per cent of the Netherlands) in 2001.2 This initiative was taken after the Salvation Army found that many people with a poor history at the national credit bureau could not open a bank account and were thus excluded from access to basic bank services. In 2001, the amount of people without a bank account was estimated by social organizations to be only several thousand people. In 2003, as a result of the covenant this number has decreased considerably. However, this access to basic bank services does not yet give them automatic access to other financial services. Many of these activities are taking place away from the...
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