In March 2018, Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies in partnership with the University of Oxford, UK concluded a participatory action research oriented project on ‘Shame proofing’ anti-poverty programmes with specific focus on Microfinance Uganda. The project was part of a multi-country study involving China, India and Uganda.
The study sought to assess whether programmes that are ‘shame-proofed’, expressly designed to promote dignity, are more effective in attaining anti-poverty objectives than those that are not. Uganda’s research covered Pride Micro Finance Community Banking Group Guaranteed Loan Scheme (GGLS) offered as a pro-poor loan product. The study involved an intervention that sought to investigate whether a process of group sensitization and tailored mentoring around the concept of dignity enhancement would reduce indignity in the provision of credit through community banking micro credit scheme and increase its capacity for promoting inclusive growth and development. The two-year project was implemented in Kagadi and Hoima community banking schemes. The research was carried out by Prof. Grance Bantebya and Dr Florence Kyoheirwe Muhanguzi from the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, and Dr Elaine Chase from Oxford University.
At the breakfast meeting held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on 20th June 2018, Prof. Grace Bantebya disseminated the research findings, extensively explaining how shame and stigma involved in the process of accessing credit from the case study micro-credit scheme had negatively impacted the implementation of its anti-poverty programmes.
The researchers underscored the importance of designing shame-proofed anti-poverty policies as one of the measures of increasing the effectiveness of anti-poverty programmes. “There is need to support the poor in a manner that is empowering if the anti-poverty programmes designed by Micro-finance institutions are to realize their intended objectives. Shame reduces self esteem and weakens the effectiveness of the anti-poverty policies. It is therefore important that micro-credit policies embed issues of dignity at every step in the process of accessing credit and payment,” Prof. Bantebya explained. According to a 2013 Resolution of the UN General Assembly, respect for the inherent dignity of those living in poverty must inform all policies. “State agents and private individuals must therefore respect the dignity of all, avoid stigmatization and prejudices and recognize and support the efforts that those living in poverty are making to improve their lives.”
The researchers also emphasized the importance of mentorship in promoting the effectiveness of micro-finance anti-poverty programmes. According to the researchers, mentoring has positive impact on group cohesion, members’ wellbeing and agency. Mentoring results into increased understanding of the processes of the scheme, promotes mutual respect and accountability within groups and increases participation. With mentorship, group members can collectively identify and respond to irregularities and are able to question micro-credit scheme policies.
The research findings were disseminated to representatives of micro-finance institutions and civil society organizations.
(See below PowerPoint presentation –A detailed presentation of the research work will be shared later)
Overview of the project
Project title – Doe shame-proofing anti-poverty programmes improve their effectiveness? Theory of change and impact policy evaluation in cross-national settings
Funding Agency- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – Department for International Development (DFID)
Research focus: The India research focused on Bonded labour and access to credit from landlords. China’s research focused on the Politics of Shame in Dibao – a social protection programme. Uganda’s research covered Pride Micro Finance Community Banking Group Guaranteed Loan scheme (GGLS) offered as a pro-poor loan product which advances credit to cash strapped aspiring entrepreneurs.