Cost-Benefit Analysis
Sona Mitra
MULTIPLE MEANINGS OF MONEY: HOW WOMEN SEE MICROFINANCE by Smita Premchander Sage Publications, 2011, 288 pp., 595
March 2011, volume 35, No 3

In Multiple Meanings of Money: How Women See Microfinance, the authors explore women’s own money management strategies, group dynamics and learning processes in groups. The book is an impact study using participatory research methodologies in an actor-oriented perspective framework that essentially results in conclusions based on group discussions, individual, household and community interviews. It is an interesting composition of detailed evidences in the form of case studies of individuals and the self-help groups (SHG) and monographs. The authors have presented an interesting collation of case studies as a method of impact assessment by taking into account several aspects of the individuals’ and groups’ historical, social and cultural positions. Focusing mainly on the women and women-only groups from semi-arid and tribal belts and taking a southern Indian village as a case study, the authors have presented diverging perspectives of external intervening agencies, individual women and those of women who are members of self-help groups.

Although the book does not strictly adhere to the feminist framework and methodology, yet the perspective can be termed as women-oriented, as it deals with the questions of benefits and costs to women from development programmes. The book has highlighted the different perceptions of credit among women, basically trying to develop strategies to cope with livelihood sustainability, building and creation of assets and consequently being able to improve access to mainstream benefits and more credits. The book has highlighted evidence to show that improved access to cheaper institutionalized credit over a longer period provides means for women to invest in greater income generating activities and human capital.

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