Microfinance and Women Empowerment: A Case Study of Atwima Kwanwoma Rural Bank Ltd.

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Microfinance is provision of small amounts of institutional loans to low income people who could not access loans from formal sector finance firms. Major objective of extending the loans is to alleviate poverty by creating jobs and incomes. While reducing poverty, microfinance services are supposed to build asset bases of their clients to manage and cope up with risks. Microfinance programmes are also expected to empower women clients by improving their decision-making roles and self-esteem, among others. However, whether microfinance programmes are bringing about desired changes is debatable. In addition, some argue that microfinance has been pushing the low income people further into poverty. Many rural banks and non-bank institutions have implemented several microfinance schemes over the last two decades. The thesis, Microfinance and women empowerment, a case study of Atwima Kwanwoma Rural Bank Ltd .was aimed at assessing how their microfinance has been able to socially and economically empower women clients. Data was collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. Specific methods applied included the focus group discussion and administration of structured questionnaires and the interviews. Data was analysed using such statistical tools as MS Excel, where frequency distribution tables, bar graphs and pie charts were used in presenting the data collected. Data analysis revealed a considerable number of women as beneficiaries who have either been given start-up capital or have boosted their capital to enhance various forms of farm and non-farm activities. There was a marginal increase in the levels of income. However, there was a marked improvement in the social empowerment in the participation of women in the decision making process within their households. There was also an improvement in the self esteem and level of confidence of beneficiaries. It is recommended that Within AKRB and for that matter MFIs, gender issues need to become not only part of their mission statement but also of their social intermediation packages. MFIs will need to widen their training packages beyond loan management. They will also need to customize their delivery mechanisms, such as in the loan cycle, loan terms, lending methods, loan management, loan performance monitoring, and investing in policy issues that help safeguard gender equality.
A Thesis Submitted to the Institute of Distance Learning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology- Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Commonwealth Executive Masters in Business Administration, August, 2011