Credit and savings schemes have much appeal for many different actors involved in development. They offer one of the few economic blueprints for tackling poverty. However, there is a growing consensus that their gains are highly exaggerated. They do not address structural issues such as intra-household relations of power and rights, or inequalities created at the global level, which have a detrimental impact on equitable development. These schemes are also unsustainable, seldom managing to cover costs and increase their capital base. If future credit and savings schemes are to be effective in poverty alleviation, they need to make stronger linkages between the macro- and micro-economies, and understand economic interventions as part of a wider programme of women’s empowerment. This article draws on examples and lessons learned by Womankind Worldwide and its international partners, to illustrate these points.
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