Assessing the household impact of microcredit on rural Nigerian women
Microfinance, by providing small loans and savings facilities to those who are excluded from formal banking institutions, is seen by many as one way to help the poor increase their income and productivity. Access to credit is promoted as a way to assist the poor to become self-employed and thus escape poverty. Yet, although microfinance programs are driven by the need to arrest poverty, a noble goal, the extent to which they are able to reach the poorest with their service and make a positive impact on the poor continues to be an issue of debate. For this reason, the purpose of the research was to measure the changes in the livelihood and household well-being of COWAN members as a result of their involvement with COWAN, a micro finance organization in Nigeria. Using a combination of survey questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group. The findings of the research suggest that COWAN's client's are not worse off than incoming clients. The clients reported positive changes in their self-esteem and confidence; leadership abilities and decision-making processes. They are contributing financially to their household's well-being and are increasingly seeking out solutions to their own problems and the community.