Wide agreement about the goal of microfinance—to improve the welfare of the poor—has not led to wide agreement about how best to achieve that goal. To aid discussion, I propose a framework for outreach—the social benefits of microfinance—in terms of six aspects: worth, cost, depth, breadth, length, and scope. The framework encompasses both the poverty approach to microfinance and the self-sustainability approach. The poverty approach assumes that great depth of outreach can compensate for narrow breadth, short length, and limited scope. The self-sustainability approach assumes that wide breadth, long length, and ample scope can compensate for shallow depth. I show how to use the framework for BancoSol of Bolivia.
Schreiner, M. (1999). Aspects of outreach: A framework for the discussion of the social benefits of microfinance (CSD Working Paper No. 99-3). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.