Published on January 23, 2008
MICROCREDIT AND GENDER RELATIONS: MICROCREDIT AND GENDER RELATIONS PRELIMINARY NOTES:A CASE-STUDY OF AMANAH IKHTIAR MEMBERS IN SAUK, PERAK HISTORY OF MICROCREDIT: HISTORY OF MICROCREDIT THE POOR AND THEIR NEED FOR CREDIT – much written about but action taken could not reach the target groups. Mainly benefited rich farmers. 1975 World Bank publication, “The Assault on World Poverty” (p.122)recognised the need for credit for the rural poor but had at that time no model that could deliver credit to the rural poor. Grameen Bank – Prof. Yunus argued that credit was a fundamental human right and a means for socio-economic change. “Every person must be allowed a fair chance to improve his /her economic condition. This can be easily done by ensuring his/her right to credit”He further argued that credit played a critical role in obtaining all other human rights. (Grameen Reader: 15-16)AMANAH IKHTIAR MALAYSIA – modified the Grameen model to suit the Malaysian scene, to complement existing poverty reduction programs organized by the government. Identified the roots of rural poverty in the opportunity structure available to them as well as their lack of skills: Grameen Bank – Prof. Yunus argued that credit was a fundamental human right and a means for socio-economic change. “Every person must be allowed a fair chance to improve his /her economic condition. This can be easily done by ensuring his/her right to credit” He further argued that credit played a critical role in obtaining all other human rights. (Grameen Reader: 15-16) AMANAH IKHTIAR MALAYSIA – modified the Grameen model to suit the Malaysian scene, to complement existing poverty reduction programs organized by the government. Identified the roots of rural poverty in the opportunity structure available to them as well as their lack of skills Rural poor can be divided into- the less capable – need more than opportunity, need skills development, supervision, motivation and financial aid,- the capable – need credit to create additional self-employment: Rural poor can be divided into - the less capable – need more than opportunity, need skills development, supervision, motivation and financial aid, - the capable – need credit to create additional self-employment “Credit frees both men and women but it is much more dramatic for women than it is for men. It brings the women into the income stream without the usual sacrifices required under wage employment situation. She does not have to leave her habitat and her children. She does not have to learn a new skill to adapt herself to a new job. She can do whatever she does best, and earn money for it”. (Grameen Reader: 15-16) HISTORY OF AMANAH IKHTIAR MALAYSIA: HISTORY OF AMANAH IKHTIAR MALAYSIA Started out as a pilot project with USM, Selangor State Economic Planning Unit, Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam (YPEIM) and (APDC), a regional development organisation after more than 12 years of work by Grameen Bank AIM Organizational Structure: AIM Organizational Structure Each group is made up of 5 members Depending on population of kampung, when there are 6 – 12 groups can form a centre with a dedicated AIM field staff The branch oversees centers Every centre meets once a week where the feasibility of project loans are discussed, collections on loans are made HQ is in KL Concepts for Gender analysis : Concepts for Gender analysis Gender based division of labour Access (ability to use a resource) and control over resources (define and make decisions about the use of the resource) Power and decision-making – in any social grouping men have greater access and control over resources and this gives them more power over women, eg. power of physical force, wealth and income, etc. This power is institutionalized through laws and policies of the state and rules and regulations of formal social institutions Initial Research Objectives : Initial Research Objectives Document the impact of micro-credit on gender relations within the household and the community Map the changes in household gender roles before and after receiving loans Identify men’s attitudes toward their wives as AIM loan recipients Identify men’s attitude toward women in the community who are loan recipients Methodology : Methodology Qualitative research Chief informant – retired headmistress, head of Kumpulan Peladang Wanita, voted best “peladang wanita” for 2006 First respondent was introduced by her, all other respondents were identified through the snow-ball technique. Targeted sample size – 20 women and 10 men/spouses Research Background: Research Background Interviews commenced in Nov. 2006 5 female respondents with age ranging from 30 – 58years, level of schooling with the lowest Form 3/PMR and highest Form 5/SPM, no. of children from 2 – 7 including pre-school, school-going and working children Economic resource – all owned their own homes, have at least a motorcycle as means of transport, some owned a car. Houses range from fully concrete to predominantly wooden with concrete attachment. Research area - diverse agricultural activites; padi, rubber, fishing, orchard, animal husbandry, etc. Infrastructure - highway to Kelantan, good roads Research Background: Research Background Four respondents are currently AIM members, with loans ranging from RM500 to RM10,000 AIM does not provide skills training or marketing of products. Some training is provided by government agencies; eg. Jabatan Perikanan, Kumpulan Peladang Wanita, KEMAS, etc. Emerging Issues: Emerging Issues Self-Employment and its multiplier effect Kak Yong[35, C7(6S, 1PS), H(rubber merchant), B(baking, pekasam) 8AIM)] who began her biscuit making business by getting RM500/= loan to buy her initial inputs. Her second loan project was for buying and selling rubber. With the loan she and her husband bought a lorry to send rubber to the factory. Out of that RM10,000 loan she took RM3,000 to buy a special oven for “bahalu” making. As her cake making business expanded she hived-off the “bahulu” making to her friend, Pn. Anita. Mentoring and knowledge transfer: Mentoring and knowledge transfer Pn. Anita [(30, C (?PS), H (?), cook in a restaurant, part-time baking, XAIM). Initially reluctant to take up the offer but after Kak Yong insisted that she will teach her all the steps, she relented. In order to demonstrate the value of Anita’s input to the business, after showing her the profit earned, Kak Yong took Anita to the jewelers to buy gold. Now, Anita says she doesn’t buy gold but keeps her money for her children’s schooling. The lack of skills was overcome through a mentor, as Kak Yong is to Anita. Gains through self-employment was demonstrated through actively being involved in an enterprise and learning a new skill. Developing confidence as an enterpreneur: Developing confidence as an enterpreneur Kak Yong [(A35, C7 (6S, 1 PS), H (rubber merchant), S(baking, pekasam) 8AIM)] introduced herself as an “usahawan”. When she began her baking business she only baked on demand, eg. for festivals like Hari Raya, “kenduri kahwin”. She decided to bake on a regular basis in order to provide a constant supply. But cynical neighbors asked “Bolehkah kau jual semua ni?” she was quite uncertain if she had made the right choice but she tried to overcome her fear. She believed that “rezeki di tangan Allah”. Her confidence in providence provided her with the strength to go ahead with her project. She also mentioned that the AIM oath reinforced her belief in her business. Capturing the market: Capturing the market Kak Yong now understands the market for baking – she plans to have a constant supply of baked items. Whatever she cannot bake herself, she buys from other people and markets it, “…apa saja orang nak, Kak Yong ada”. Another responsent, Kak Nab credits AIM for expanding her network of friends. The network is her best advertiser. “Dalam AIM kawan ramai, senang berniaga. Bila sapa tanya mana nak cari minyak wangi, orang tau Kak Nab jual Avon”. Lack of support – “tak mahu bagi semangat”: Lack of support – “tak mahu bagi semangat” Kak Yong notes the lack of support for her efforts to expand her business. Negative comments as, “Boleh kah kau jual ni semua?” was not seen as a demonstration of her entrepreneurial spirit and she wants to know why. Enter Kak Nab. Kak Nab has been involved in direct selling since she was 19 years old and continues to do so today. She was an AIM member but is now able to finance her own business. Kak Nab [(A51, C5 (2W, 3S), H (fisherman), runs a grocery store,taps rubber, plants “kangkong” and “keladi” for sale, X AIM)] explained the lack of support from other women in the community as based on their lack of understanding of doing business. Her detractors have commented, “Berapa lama kedai hang nak berjaya?” “mereka tak nampak apa kita nak buat, mana kita nak pergi”. When the detractors suffered problems in their own business they do not ask others for help, “…tak nak menanya”. UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS: UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS Kak Nab is aware that for her shop to prosper, the other shops must also be thriving. As her shop is beside an empty shop-lot she has convinced the owner to rent out his premise to her friend. She believes that “kita tak boleh berkasar dengan kawan-kawan, bagi semangat, jangan kata tak boleh”. She works in a network of friends, “Kami ada muafakat, bila timbul masaalah kami berbincang, cari jalan …” What is “modal” and “duit untuk makan”: What is “modal” and “duit untuk makan” Usahawan yang berjaya mula dengan AIM. Duit tak dak, boleh cari. Minat mesti ada! Dari pinjaman boleh “rolling”(working capital) Duit pinjaman jangan buat belot-belot. AIM ada perjanjian, “…bersaksikan Allah, ahli kumpulan dan pusat”. Duit pinjaman mesti untuk business. Cari duit lain untuk makan. Networking: Networking AIM membership has created a network of women who are aware of each other’s products and capabilities. Kak Yong has created a name for herself in baking, and her network of friends know her products. They are her best advertisers. Kak Nab is now financially stable and is in no need of AIM loans. She identifies herself in a network of women who discuss their business problems. To her, “…modal tak jadi masalah, boleh cari macam mana pun, minat mesti ada dulu” Preliminary Conclusions: Preliminary Conclusions These women were doing business with the support of other women and for some also with the support of their husbands (Kak Lili). The interviews so far have shown that women depend significantly on other women for labour and to exchange ideas. Credit has been a very basic ingredient to the changes in these women’s knowledge and understanding of business. For the successful ones it has increased the women’s self-confidence. Entrepreneurship is now understood as a viable alternative income-generating strategy. Through micro-credit rural women have been able to start businesses on a small scale. The successful stories narrated here shows that micro-credit has contributed significantly to the creation of social capital for entrepreneurial development, a new income-generating structure in the transformation of the rural economy in Malaysia. OUTSTANDING ISSUES: OUTSTANDING ISSUES When size of production expands – trouble getting funding. Eg. Kak Yong, has put up a proposal for a bengkel to Jabatan Perikanan to produce pekasam. She did not get the loan but somebody else did. She wants to know why? To her, the bengkel was provided by the government but it is accessible only to one producer. Could it not be used by other producers communally? Decline of community spirit. Time taken for processing loans. Earlier it was possible to get loans within a week, now taking longer-3 months.