Mainstreaming Microfinance: How Lending To The Poor Began, Grew And Came Of Age In Bolivia

Elisabeth Rhyne

Many of you will know Beth through her previous writings, and her regular contributions to the DevFinance discussion list. Mainstreaming Microfinance looks at the example of Bolivia, and draws lessons both for those involved in microfinance work, and those involved in development work more generally. It’s a very readable and fluent account of a dramatic change in one country’s approach to banking. To quote from the blurb, “Between 1987 and 1997, an extraordinary transformation happened to the financial system in Bolivia. At the start of this period the nation’s banks and financial institutions offered the poor and working class few services, and preferred to keep them out of their banking halls. By the end of the decade, however, hundreds of thousands of these same people were the valued customers of more than 15 banks, financial institutions and credit programs, all vying with each other for a greater share of this new market. These events are part of a world phenomenon known as microfinance. Some people tout microfinance as the most important tool now available for fighting poverty in underdeveloped countries while still others doubt its contribution to the‘truly’ poor.

"Author Elisabeth Rhyne not only chronicles the emergence of Bolivia’s microfinance industry, but takes the reader one step further in understanding how microfinance relates to the larger social and economic perspective through which we view development. This is a success story with mass appeal. Development professionals, microfinance practitioners, and those interested the continuing evolution of Latin America will benefit from this non-technical, in-depth analysis."

I very much recommend this book to those of you who are seeking to persuade colleagues of the transformative potential of microfinance, or who get asked the question by those outside the industry, ‘so what exactly do you do?’ Tell them to read Beth’s book and find out! Details are on the Kumarian Press website at

Guy Bentham
Editor and Associate Publisher

Paper: 1-56549-126-2 / $25.95
Cloth: 1-56549-127-0 / $60.00
272 pages (est.)

Kumarian Press, Inc.
1294 Blue Hills Avenue
Bloomfield, CT 06002-1302, USA
Tel +1 860 243 2098
Fax +1 860 243 2867

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