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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy


Though the world is changing rapidly, the problem of poverty and the push for human development have been debated for as long as anyone can remember. Outdated strategies for human development are not sustainable in this new globalized world. The relatively young and growing field of microfinance is hoping to be the answer for sustainable human development and poverty elimination. This study analyzes the impact of microfinance on human development through two major questions. Firstly, to what extent and in what ways can microfinance impact the poor? This research question is multifaceted and will seek to address some of the major criticisms of the microfinance field. Next, has the expansion of the field into for-profit models of microfinance impacted the original goals of microfinance or the ability for these goals to be realized? In other words, is it possible for profit seeking companies to remain accountable and true to the social development objective of the field? The data from this study consists of information from interactive research. The research supports the diversification of the field of microfinance has had a largely positive impact, though it has hurt the public opinion of the field. In regards to impact on human development the research shows first and foremost it is difficult to measure the overall influence on microfinance via controlled studies. Nevertheless, nearly all experts agreed microfinance has a positive and sustainable social impact on the poor.


Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | International Economics | Politics and Social Change