Serving Vulnerable & Marginalized Populations
Microfinance and microenterprise development are, generally, most effective as poverty reduction tools among those who have the capacity and opportunity to be economically active. Disadvantaged populations—such as those affected by trafficking, conflict, natural disasters, and HIV/AIDS—often need more than finance and entrepreneurial assistance to take advantage of economic opportunities. In these situations, microenterprise assistance needs to be tailored to the specific local context, constraints, and assets of the client group. People who are particularly disadvantaged may be in greater need of basic services such as health care, shelter and food. In some cases, microenterprise assistance may be relevant only if combined with other relief or development interventions.
USAID’s Microenterprise Development office seeks to explore how microfinance institutions can best serve these population segments, not just in terms of appropriate products, but also through other needed services provided through partnerships with health organizations, relief organizations, and other community-based organizations. The research and knowledge products on these pages also aim to give guidance to non-microfinance institution practitioners on sound microfinance practices and principles in order to improve understanding about what microfinance as a tool can and cannot achieve.