Articles authored by Copestake, James

Conference Report

The author presents a personal view of an international conference on the use of financial services in the reduction of poverty, held at Reading University in the UK, with participants from NGOs, academic institutions, and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), as well as donors. The conference, according to the author, paid insufficient attention to the nature of poverty, measuring it in economic terms only, and failed to make clear potential difficulties with subsidised credit schemes, as well as putting forward a simplistic conception of financial technology transfer.
The author reports on this conference, held in Bradford, England in May 1996. Consultants, planners, activists, geographers, ecologists, and economists attended, presenting papers on diverse topics but with the intention of understanding different methodological approaches to choosing development options. Focussing on environmental impact-assessment, the report highlights the participants' fruitful discussion of the interaction between various methodologies, but the author argues that `progress towards more environment-friendly development paths remains problematic.'

Practical Notes

This paper is concerned with the requirements of microfinance organisations (MFOs) that seek both to reduce poverty and to become increasingly financially self-reliant. They need information on their impact in order to improve the services they offer. But impact assessment (IA) work has generally been carried out primarily to comply with the accountability requirements of their financial sponsors. This Note advocates re-orienting IA towards the MFO's own strategic decision processes, and integrating it more closely with internal monitoring.
This paper draws on five case studies to explore potential benefits and barriers to horizontal networking to promote impact monitoring and assessment of microfinance. Its main aim is to stimulate further discussion of this issue, but it also draws tentative conclusions about factors likely to contribute towards success. In particular, experience from Honduras suggests that network organisations can work most effectively when they facilitate wider use of impact assessment (IA) activities already piloted by a lead member of the network.