Alternative financial institutions? Sustainability, development, social reproduction, and gender analysis

Many NGO financial institutions and co-operatives are, arguably, incorporating the rules and norms of banking which, as `alternative' institutions, they sought to avoid. Here, the author uses CARUNA (the National Savings and Credit Co-operative `Caja Rural', in Nicaragua) as a case study through which to discuss what makes a truly alternative financial institution, with a gender focus. These institutions should recognise the value of promoting `innovative services that support social reproduction and food security activities, and promote participation by and accountability to communities.'