Effectiveness of microfinance products and services in poverty alleviation: a case of First Microfinance Agency (FMFA) Central Kenya
Nyale, Hannah HC
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The study sought to analyze the effectiveness of microfinance products and services in poverty alleviation. Three specific objectives that guided the study are: To assess the effectiveness of micro-credit on poverty alleviation, to establish the effectiveness of micro-savings product on poverty alleviation and to establish the effectiveness of microinsurance product on poverty alleviation. The research was carried out in central province. A descriptive research design was used to collect primary data in addition to the secondary data. A pre-tested questionnaire and focus group discussion guide were administered to target population through personal interviews and focus group discussions. Cluster sampling was used. A total of 85 participants were interviewed plus 37 focus group discussions conducted. The data collected was analyzed both numerically and descriptively. Statistical package for social science SPSS was used for data analysis and data was presented in tables and texts. The study found that micro-credit is effective in improving household income, assets acquisition, meals per day and the spending on education. Majority of the respondents said they had not seen improvement on health care and housing. Microfinance showed to be positively influence savings growth, but in insurance results indicated 80% of the respondents having not benefited. The researcher recommended that there is need for micro-finance organizations to develop products in the area of health care and housing. Instead of just saving and only earning the annual interest from the savings, organizations should introduce investment schemes that will see the funds saved by the poor people multiply in the long run. Where the micro-finance institutions cannot offer investment plans, they should partner with other organizations offering the same for the benefit of the poor communities. Formal insurance services should be made accessible to the poor with subsidized premiums and simplified procedures. FMF A should step up awareness to the communities on the importance of micro-insurance. Beside the life and disability insurance, other insurance products should be introduced especially health and property cover. The researcher suggested that further study be conducted for clients in other micro-finance institutions operating in the same area to ascertain the findings and also establish the extent to which the products and services are effective in alleviating poverty.