The implementation of microfinance services is too often considered a linear process, technical and rational, conforming to guidelines that the credit officers merely apply and the clients passively consume. As any development project, microfinance should be considered as a process of continuous compromises and negotiations between numerous stakeholders, directly or indirectly involved, and whose objective is, well before the implementation of the project, to build or to maintain an image, an identity, a status, to create or to sustain power, relationships or access to resources. It is our assumption that the provision of microfinance services by the microfinance institutions and their ultimate use by their clients or member is the result of an interactive process, made of successive innovations, adjustments, appropriation, compromises, manipulations, which imply learning, trials and errors but also tensions, and sometimes crises.
The main objective of this axe is to analyse how, in practice, clients appropriate microfinance services, individually and collectively. This requires an in-depth analysis of the following aspects:
- how clients experience and understand microfinance services,
- the role of credit officers and the nature of the relationships built between clients and credit officers
- the dynamics of group lending
- the insertion of microfinance programmes within local arenas of power