Microfinance and Gender Issues : Reducing or Reproducing Inequalities ? Achievements and Challenges in the Tunisian Case

Mathilde Bauwin

Décembre 2017

Université Paris-Dauphine

Sous la direction de Philippe DE VREYER

Microfinance aims at facilitating access to financial services for vulnerable people excluded from the traditional banking system. In that regard, it appears as a key tool to reduce inequalities, especially between men and women, to access credit. However, on the basis of a case study about the main Tunisian microfinance institution, this research work shows that when considering the loan conditions granted, the objective of inequality reduction is not fully achieved. If the institution indeed favors women in terms of access to credit, and despite the lesser risk female clients represent for the institution, women still receive lower loan amounts than men all along their credit history. The most ambitious women are in particular the most rationed ones. Putting the analyses on microdata, experimental data and impact assessment of a training on loan officers into perspective suggests that gender inequalities existing in Tunisia and among clients contribute to create gender-based stereotypes among loan officers. Since current granting procedures leave some room for subjectivity, some inequalities are reproduced instead of reduced.