Using a Black Feminist Framework: A Study Comparing Bias Against Female Entrepreneurs in Caribbean Micro-banking

Caroline Shenaz Hossein


Activists in the global south have questioned microeconomic principles that allow for bias by educated males against poor women. A core aim of microfinance is to bring meaningful economic and social empowerment to marginalized business women by creating inclusive financial services. Using a Black feminist framework, I find that this has not been the case for all women with micro-banking in the Caribbean. This study of 491 individual interviews and focus group discussions holds that Caribbean people are stratified along multiple identities and female privileging creates a women-disempowering effect in the allocation of financial services to the urban poor. I argue that gender must be studied in relation to race and class in these cases. Middle-class Jamaican managers apply their own class bias, infused with racism, to reject certain segments of the poor. Afro-Guyanese are excluded from micro-loans as a consequence of class and race bias. Haitis microfinance sector is exceptional, however, because co-operative lenders are sensitive to bias: They structure programs as a revolutionary tool for economic democracy to reach the ti machanns (micro-entrepreneurs).


gender, microfinance, poor men, identity politics, racism, informal banks

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