Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


Graham Wright


Increasing numbers of organizations are "replicating" the programs of successful microfinance institutions (MFIs). This approach allows rapid start-up using tested models and systems. These strengths are also weaknesses, though, since the models being replicated usually require substantial modifications to make them appropriate for local conditions. Furthermore, close adherence to "blueprints" is likely to substitute for careful research into the needs and opportunities for the provision of financial services to the poor--and thus the design of appropriate systems. Replication also risks the suppression of innovative ways of providing still better financial services--particularly when promoted by powerful apex funding organizations, as is currently in vogue among donor agencies. Perhaps the most dangerous form of replication is that driven by consultants, lenders, or donors who design or recommend systems they only partly understand, thus giving incomplete or blurred blueprints. Credit is alsoused as a way to attract clients to meetings (where they may be required to participate in other activities, such as family planning, etc.). This "parttime banking" is dangerous, both as a result of the complexity of providing financial services, and because clients come to rely on permanent access to these services.


Graham Wright has worked on training, systems design, research, and evaluation of both rural and urban microfinance institutions for nearly fifteen years. He helped develop BURO, Tangail's influential system in Bangladesh, and has just finished providing long-term technical assistance in the Philippines, promoting self-help "Savings and Loan Groups" and linking them to strong cooperatives. Graham is currently Senior Regional Microfinance Advisor for the UNDP/DFID MicroSave-Africa project and Chair of the CGAP Savings Mobilization Working Group, and has recently made a Research Associate of the Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.



Journal Title

Journal of Microfinance

Issue and Volume