Microfinance in Jordan isn’t helping to empower women
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Foreign donors need to reconsider how their money is being used, as profits are taking precedence over sustainability
Jordan is trying to economically empower women by providing cash for micro to small enterprises. Depressingly few women work in formal jobs, but many work informally (pdf), in areas such as tailoring, ghee manufacturing and leather craftwork. But does the country’s microenterprise development strategy, heralded by the government and foreign aid donors, hinder the women it is supposed to help?
The issue is not the amount of funding given, but the lack of clarity about how it is distributed. Since 2012 Jordan has been given more than $250m by aid agencies and foreign governments (pdf) to expand its enterprise development for inclusive growth programme. Much of this aid has gone towards increasing financial access, either as direct loans to local projects or as lines of credits (LOCs) for microfinance institutions (MFIs).