Concepts, Research, Policy
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Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 94: The Impact of Microcredit Programmes on Survivalist Women Entrepreneurs in The Gambia and Senegal
Bart Casier Introduction The concept of entrepreneurship has become increasingly popular in recent times, as was highlighted in a special report about entrepreneurship by The Economist entitled ‘Global heroes’ in March 2009: The entrepreneurial idea has gone mainstream, supported by political leaders on the left as well as on the right, championed by powerful pressure groups, reinforced by a growing infrastructure of universities and venture capitalists and embodied by widely popular business heroes such as Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and India’s software kings.1 This idea is not only confined to the wealthy economies, but has also been exported to poorer nations, where more and more programmes focus on entrepreneurship as a tool for economic development. The most popular approach to stimulate entrepreneurship has been microcredit, as invented by Nobel prizewinner Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. This has led to what Ananya Roy (Chapter 84, this volume) calls ‘the financialisation of development’, and has been particularly relevant to women who are often the bulk of clients in microfinance programmes (see Maclean, Chapter 87, this volume; Mohamed, Chapter 86, this volume). With this in mind, my chapter focuses on the impact of two microcredit programmes on business growth among low-income women in two West African countries: The Gambia and Senegal, former British and French colonies respectively. It considers women’s main motivations to start a business, the capacity of microcredit to generate growth at individual and group levels, and the role of gender in business. Background to the study My case...
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