Homogenuity and Heterogenuity:
What makes a community tick??

The defining factors for homogenuity in a community can make or break an otherwise well designed micro-credit/finance programme - membership size, fund size, fund allocation methods, etc. There are several defining attributes that can be used to determine the level of homogenuity in a community. Higher degrees of homogenuity ( is supposed to ) " ... lead to lower rates of internal delinquency - members failing to repay the group treasurer on time, and external deliquency - the group as a whole failing to repay the lender."

Some of the defining attributes of homogenuity include:

  • Geography
    Same street
    Same settlement

  • Ethnicity
    Place of origin

  • Socio-Economics
    Distribution of overall, and income-earning, age groups
    Income levels
    Place of employment
    Type of employment
    Investment in housing and infrastructure
    Membership in community associations and networks

  • Other
    Length of stay in the community
    Investment in community facilities
    Civil status - voting rights, political activities etc.
  • But that does not necessary make heterogenuity a bad word! A very illuminating interview with an Indian NGO worker highlighted the advantages of heterogenuity. Heterogenuity is good -

    Thus it becomes apparent that attributes of homogenuity help in group formation and cohesion, ensuring commitment and participation; while attributes of heterogenuity enhances the functioning of the credit group itself by providing " ... mutual insurance capacity in the credit groups and provide strong leadership and competent book keeping."
    Field studies in Bangalore (India) and Bangkok (Thailand). Words in quotes from Mark Wenner - mark_wenner@abtassoc.com in DEVFINANCE mailing list.

    Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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