Management Research Review
Vol. 33 No. 12, 2010
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Microfinance and gender
considerations in developed
The case of Catalonia
-Dubreuil and Consol Torreguitart-Mirada
Departament d’Economia de l’Empresa,Universitat Auto
noma de Barcelona,
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on the role played by microfinance institutions
(MFI) in the improvement of women’s micro-entrepreneurship in economically developed countries. In
the context of Catalan MFIs, the paper aims to study the allocation of resources to business projects
led by women; and analyze the main features characterizing both women’s personal traits and their
business initiatives. Microcredit programs are also compared by gender.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were gathered from Catalan MFIs, configuring a sample of
549 instances of business projects funded between 1998 and 2006. Applicants were individual
entrepreneurs located in Catalonia, seeking to start up or expand their own business. For the purpose
of contrast and generalization, data from a public nationwide program have also been considered.
The research methodology of the paper is based on a quantitative approach, using inferential
statistics to support the descriptive analysis.
Findings – The results of this research indicate that social credit is truly a good source of capital for
women; women of very different ages, with different business ideas have been funded by the Catalan
microcredit sector. MFIs have also played a significant role in the social integration of immigrant
women, thus contributing to alleviate poverty regardless of nationality.
Research limitations/implications – Extension to other developed countries is subject to
considerations about their financial system, the role played by social entities, the impact of
governmental institutions, as well as the special legal requirements of each country.
Originality/value – This paper points out that social credit offers female entrepreneurs the
opportunity to carry out independent economic activities, despite their lack of financial capital. It also
furthers the knowledge of how effectively it contributes to women’s entrepreneurship.
Keywords Finance, Gender, Entrepreneurialism, Spain
Paper type Research paper
Microcredit and microfinance origins are to be found in several areas of Asia and Latin
America, especially Bangladesh, Indonesia and Bolivia (Morduch, 1999). From their
emergence in the 1970s, social programs aiming to help poor people to earn their living
through the provision of micro-loans without collateral have been reported to
successfully help social and economic development in the vast majority of developing
countries (Anderson and Locker, 2002; McKernan, 2002; Hermes et al., 2005).
Nowadays, microfinancial services are considered relevant and useful to financially
excluded people everywhere (Rogaly et al., 1999).
To be sustainable, at least in a mid-term perspective, any microfinancial institution
(MFI) must of course have some mechanisms to ensure the repayment of loans. One of
the practices that has caught interest from the beginning, especially from theoretical
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This paper is an output from the research project PNL2004-13, funded by the Universitat
noma de Barcelona.