Making the Adaptation Across Cultures and Societies: A Report on an Attempt to Clone the Grameen Bank in Southern Arkansas
Vol. Volume 3, Number 1 June/1998
Richard P. Taub
Richard Taub is the Paul Klapper Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago and professor in Departments of Sociology and Human Development. The author wishes to thank the staff of the Good Faith Fund, who were always cooperative in sharing information and exchanging ideas in the interest of improving knowledge in this area. To do that required considerable personal courage, because discussion of errors could have led to ridicule. I wish also to thank the members of the South Arkansas Rural Development Seminar including: Hal Bass, Ray Granade, Jackie McCray, Jan Phillips, the late Annie Tune, Wali Mondal, and Donald Voth for providing stimulation and fresh ideas. Data on the Good Faith Fund were collected by observation, mailed questionnaires, and interviews with Good Faith Fund employees and Good Faith Fund borrowers conducted by the late Professor Tune, Jan Phillips, and the author. I wish to thank The Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation for their generous support and encouragement. Kelly Daley, Lelia De Andrade, Betty Farrell, Carla Hess and George Surgeon made helpful comments on the manuscript.
Peer group oriented microenterprise loan funds similar to the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh have become very popular in the United States as a means to move low income people off welfare and to become independent business people. Despite the great appeal of this model, there is not much evidence about how well it succeeds. This paper reports on observations of the Good Faith Fund, a well-known attempt to copy the Grameen Bank in Southern Arkansas. To make the program work at all in the United States, the Good Faith Fund had to make many adjustments, and still does not make very many peer group microloans. The paper analyzes why this is true and how the achievements of the program should be understood.
Microenterprise, peer group lending, economic development, poverty alleviation