CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Debt and Development: Exploring the microfinance debate in Senegal

Mallory A. Owen

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Urban Studies

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Elaine Simon

Date of this Version: 01 December 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.



Founded on the assumption that poor people are “natural entrepreneurs” (Bornstein 2005), microfinance has signaled a paradigm shift in development ideology. Using my experiences with microfinance in a fishing village in Senegal, this study will address the claims driving the microfinance movement, debate its pros and cons and pose further questions about its validity and widespread implementation. Instead of lifting people out of poverty and empowering women, microfinance may have regressive long-term potential for borrowers. How loans get used is a central theme of this essay. How microfinance and the notion of the “entrepreneur” fits into the rural, Senegalese cultural context is also addressed. Microfinance programs should be implemented with complementary measures that challenge the systematic causes of inequality examined in this article.

Suggested Citation

Owen, Mallory A., "Debt and Development: Exploring the microfinance debate in Senegal" 01 December 2006. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 06 January 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.




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