Social norms can have a profound impact on financial inclusion for women because they can limit women’s ability to work outside the home, engage with male agents, or even own a phone. Knowing exactly how norms apply is critical for closing the gender financial inclusion gap.
CGAP conducted a nationally representative survey of smallholder households in Bangladesh in 2016. The survey explored the agricultural and nonagricultural activities, financial practices and interests, and challenges and aspirations of smallholder families in Bangladesh.
In many countries, including Uganda, Bangladesh, and Bolivia, microfinance has become more competitive in recent years. Competition is generally expected to benefit consumers by offering a wider choice of appropriate products and providers, better service, and lower prices.
Most studies of microfinance programs in Bangladesh indicate that the poor, and especially poor women, have been effectively targeted, and that microfinance programs have been successful in opening up economic opportunities for their clients, increasing access to resources and contributing to their confidence and well-being.
Microfinance products tend to be uniform across large geographic areas. For example, in Bangladesh most microfinance institutions (MFIs) offer some variant of the product pioneered by Grameen Bank—a loan with a term of about a year, repaid in frequent (usually weekly) installments, given in a group context, ostensibly for micro-enterprise use, and with a compulsory savings element.