Poor households in the informal economy are producers and consumers. Consequently, they need access to the full range of financial services to generate income, build assets, smooth consumption, and manage risks. The global financial inclusion agenda recognizes these broader needs and microfinance is the instrument to tackle them. It also recognizes the importance of financial literacy, education and women empowerment that build consumer capabilities and consumer protection regimes that take into account the conditions and constraints of poor families in the informal economy.

Yet finance is a tool, human rights the objective: for human dignity and social justice to flourish, individuals must have a hand in their personal development, as opposed to having development “done” to them.

Does access to financial services, such as microloans, savings and insurance, mitigate vulnerability and foster self-help? Is microfinance effectively releasing people from the harsh grip of poverty and catalyze their economic growth? Who really benefit from microfinance - investors, lenders, borrowers or community? Shall be microfinance "a human right" (Yunus)?

These are the main topics that will be discussed throughout the course "Microfinance for Social Change".