Publication Details

Ranabahu, N. & Moerman, L. (2018). Caught Between Two Worlds: Clusters, microfinance officers and accountability mechanisms in a Sri Lankan MFI. Third Sector Review, 24 (2), 1-34.


This paper studies the accountability mechanisms and dynamics that exist within a microfinance context when microfinance officers (MFOs) interact with borrowers at the community level (MFO-community interface). In the Sri Lankan microfinance institution (MFI) used in this study, community units or clusters comprising of several peer or solidarity groups engage with MFOs in the field. Using Ritchie and Richardson's (2000) accountability typologies (codified, contingent, assumed and collateral), this article explores how multiple and complex accountability relationships manifest at the MFO community interface.The data collected from interviews, discussions, observations, document reviews and the primary researcher's reflective notes demonstrate that both codified and contingent accountability associations are evident for MFOs. Peer groups, however, demonstrate both collateral and contingent accountability associations, while clusters show assumed accountability associations. These different types of accountability have implications for the empowerment potential of MFIs.

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