Financial inclusion and microfinance


Financial inclusion is an international programme to expand access to finance to all. In this sense, it refers to an idea–the goal of everyone being financially included; and a set of practices toward achieving it–making included; involving different actors, methods, technologies and sets of power relations. The key activity so far has been microfinance, which is also the best-documented and most researched part, and therefore at the centre of this chapter. Below, we offer an empirically informed discussion of financial inclusion, building on long-standing research results and debates about microfinance. We also aim to advance the reader’s critical engagement by questioning whether access to financial services really constitutes a universal human need, and probing for better evidence on whether financial inclusion in practice brings more benefits than harms.