Microfinance is a successful financial innovation to help the poor to sort out credit exclusion, which is one of the poverty traps that prevent billions of underserved, especially women, from escaping atavistic misery. Interconnected poverty traps range from misuse of natural resources (from blood diamonds to the oil curse) to conflict traps, demographic booming, being landlocked with bad neighbors or exposed to unfreedom. Other traps concern cultural backwardness, unsafe drinking and sanitation, food shortage up to starvation, illnesses or climatic shocks, causing mass migrations and unfair globalization.
Microfinance, a grass-roots movement to provide credit to the neediest, can greatly help to dismantle at least some of these poverty traps, and thousands of mostly small institutions are competing in a market where demand from the poorest for financial services is potentially unlimited – while supply is not.
While the success of microfinance, often ignited by foreign aid funding, has gone beyond any expectation, enormous problems are still on the ground. The road towards what is now considered microfinance’s optimal goal – maximization of outreach to the poorest, combined with financial self-sustainability – is still full of obstacles.
Prof. Moro Visconti's book, covering a vacuum in the existing literature, considers state-of-the-art microfinance within a broader framework of sustainable and long-term socio-economic development. With an innovative and reader friendly approach, Moro Visconti introduces the reader to the multidimensional causes of poverty and possible remedies. A cultural approach to the poverty traps, mixing its anthropological causes with possible bottom-up remedies, including microfinance, emerges as a stunning innovation.
The book aims at a broad readership from practitioners to students and academics, as well as readers simply interested in solutions to the world-wide poverty problems.