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, since the models being replicated usually require substantial modification to make them appropriate for local conditions. Furthermore, close adherence to “blue-prints” is likely to substitute for careful research into the needs and opportunities for the provision of financial services for 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 amongst donor agencies. Perhaps the most dangerous form of “replication” is that driven by consultants, leaders or donors designing or recommending systems they only partly understand, and thus giving incomplete or blurred blue-prints. Credit is also used as a way of attracting clients to meetings (where they can be required to participate in other activities – such as family planning etc.). This “part-time banking” is dangerous both as a result of the complexity of providing financial services and because the clients come to rely on permanent access to financial services.

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