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Giving small loans to women has become a mainstay in development practitioners’ toolkits. Using data collected for Oxfam America’s Saving for Change (SFC) project, this article argues that repayment of micro-credit cannot be used as a measure of micro-enterprise development per se. Instead, repayment signals the presence of peer pressure, loan sharing and remittance payments in the studied setting. This conclusion is borne through an ethnographic approach, which focuses on who accesses loans, how people who access loans use them, and how borrowers mobilise resources for repayment. The research indicates that future studies should use ethnography in tandem with other approaches to evaluation, and concludes with implications for an agenda seeking to forward women’s workers rights.

This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.

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