Microfinance respecting Islamic banking principles in marginal dry areas
In Syria microfinance is a new industry that started in 1997. The Rural Community Development Program (RCDP) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR) establishes village credit and savings associations (sanadiq, plural of sanaduq) in the dry marginal region of Jabal al Hoss, southeast of the city of Aleppo. The sanadiq are considered promising institutions in providing microcredit to poor farmers, smallholders and landless workers in Muslim countries. The institutional framework enables sanadiq to operate where other formal lending institutions do not. Formal lending institutions have limited activity in poor rural areas due to time-consuming procedures, collateral requirements, lack of sufficient land assets or inappropriate land-tenure systems, and the inherent risk from irregular land productivity that results from low and variable rainfall. This article focuses on the impact of sanaduq microfinance on poverty, on what is needed to make the sanadiq self-standing institutions and whether the sanaduq system can be spread to other regions in Syria and the region.
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