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Microfinance challenges: empowerment or disempowerment of the poor?

Isabelle Guérin
Jane Palier


Isabelle Guérin et Jane Palier

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1The conference initiating this work was organized by the French Institute in January 2004, in partnership with the Laboratoire-Population-Environnement-Développment (IRD – Université de Provence). The event was supported by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). We thank both of these institutions for their support.

2The realization of this book is the fruit of combined efforts. It has gone through different stages and we would like to thank all those involved from the beginning. First of all, we are very grateful to the whole team of the Microfinance Research Programme of the French Institute for having helped to organize the seminar in Pondicherry. This seminar brought together around thirty speakers, coming from different countries, and more than 150 participants, coming mainly from South India. Such an event requires intensive logistical work, not only during the event, but also a long time before and after it. Without the full commitment and the full availability of the whole team, this event could not have taken place. We would like especially to thank R. Ravikularaman, Venkatasubramaniam, Joe Vimal, M. Thanuja and Cyril Fouillet.

3We also thank James Walker and Avitra for having translated some papers from French to English, Mandira Moodie who did the final editing work, and T. V. Kamalambal for her technical assistance in this publication.

4We would also like to thank all members of the Scientific Advisory Committee. Their critical and detailed comments have been very useful for the publication. Finally, we thank greatly all authors but also all participants in the seminar. During those two days, the exchanges and the discussions were highly animated, intense and rich. The debates have raised new questions and new perspectives. They have also contributed to creating an informal network of relations between practitioners and researchers at the local level, which has since continued through the regular organization of round-table conferences. In view of the complexity of the theme, this work does not lay claim to exhaustiveness, and still less to providing definitive conclusions. It is only a modest contribution to current discussions, and this contribution was only possible thanks to the involvement of all those mentioned here.


Economist, and head of the programme “Microfinance and Socially Sustainable Development” at the Department of Social Sciences, French Institute of Pondicherry. She is also researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Laboratoire Population-Environnement-Développement (IRD-Université de Provence). Before working in India, she initially worked on banking and financial exclusion process in West Africa and Europe.

Economist, PhD student at the University Lumière Lyon 2 (France). She is also associated with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Laboratoire Population-Environnement-Développement (IRD-Université de Provence) and with the French Institute of Pondicherry, where she spent one year conducting her field work.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2005

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