Exploring the influence of interest free microfinance programmes on empowerment of the participating women borrowers in Pakistan : an interpretative inquiry

Ahmad, A 2018, Exploring the influence of interest free microfinance programmes on empowerment of the participating women borrowers in Pakistan : an interpretative inquiry , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

This study has argued that conventional microfinance has failed to serve a large number of Muslim consumers worldwide, which provided an opportunity to interest free microfinance to emerge as a subsector within the microfinance industry to serve this unserved target market. In the last few years, it has acquired particular recognition in Pakistan; however, there is lack of evidence to suggest that interest free microfinance is more successful than conventional microfinance. In this context, this study investigates the influence of interest free microfinance on empowerment of the women borrowers, which is one of the two main objectives of microfinance interventions.

This study has also highlighted that extant microfinance literature has ignored the contextual and subjective nature of women empowerment in conceptualising the impacts of microfinance on women empowerment, which may significantly misrepresent the potential of microfinance. This study has attempted to fill the knowledge gap by employing interpretative phenomenology as a research methodology to achieve two specific research objectives: (a) to explore, in the microfinance context, women borrowers’ perceptions on what empowerment means in their respective lives to identify empowerment indicators; and (b) to explore women’s experiences of participation in interest free microfinance programmes to study the influence of interest free microfinance on women’s perceived empowerment.

Applying theoretical lens of capability approach, this study has used in-depth semi-structured interviews and participant observation to gain insights from women’s perceptions and lived experiences of participation in interest free microfinance programmes. The study has been carried out in Pakpattan district of Pakistan in the context of Akhuwat foundation, which is the largest interest free microfinance organisation in Pakistan. Akhuwat offers a range of small-scale financial products and services to the poor throughout Pakistan.

Consistent with the research methodology, interpretative phenomenological analysis has been used to analyse the data collected from 29 purposefully selected women borrowers of Akhuwat in Pakpattan district. This study has identified eight empowerment indicators from local women’s perspective, which have been organised under three superordinate themes: personal empowerment, financial empowerment, and socio-cultural/political empowerment. Based on research findings, this study has found no major influence on women’s perceived levels of empowerment, although, majority of the research participants experienced improvements in their financial circumstances at household and business level. The study findings show that the many of the research participants experienced improved self-confidence, greater sense of financial stability, improved relationships and a sense of control on life. A significant and unique finding of this study is that empowerment indicators are not only context specific but person specific as well; since empowerment indicators did not mean or signify empowerment for research participants collectively.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Udagedara, RMUS (Supervisor) and Yazdifar, H (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Depositing User: A Ahmad
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2018 11:20
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2019 01:38
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/48497

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