Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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HOW GROUP LENDING AFFECTS INNOVATION: EVIDENCE FROM ETHIOPIA
Vol. Volume 21, Number 4 December/2016

ROBERT M. HIRTH & DAANISH PESTONJEE
Microlending has become one of the primary interventions intended to alleviate poverty in the developing world. However, empirical results of the benefits of microlending have been disappointing. This article proposes the common microlending practice of group lending reduces the likelihood borrowers will engage in innovative activities, which has been demonstrated to be a key factor in improving borrower outcomes. The hypotheses proposed are tested with data collected from interviews with 340 microloan borrowers in Ethiopia. The findings are consistent with a weak sorting effect where innovative individuals are less likely to participate in group loans than individual loans, and a social pressure effect where innovative individuals taking group loans are pressured to behave less innovatively than their peers taking individual loans.

Keywords: Microfinance, microlending, group lending, innovation, Ethiopia