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Redefining mission drift in microfinance: Exploring the link between aims and actions at ASA

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This article examines mission drift in microfinance. Discussions on mission drift in the literature are often based on a normative definition of 'mission' that entails reaching the poorest. Here it is argued that mission drift should be assessed with respect to an individual organization's stated aims and actions. The case of ASA in Bangladesh, one of the leading microfinance institutions in the world, is analysed from this perspective, first by comparing the institution's depth of outreach against its intended outreach. Findings indicate the organization is serving its target clients, but ASA frames its target in such a way that the majority of the population fits this profile, so it is unsurprising they are actually being served. The rationale for this targeting relates to how ASA perceives its mission, which is the expansion of access to sustainable finance instead of targeting the poorest of the poor. This points to the need for including the perspectives of management in any analysis of whether an institution is drifting from its mission.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2010


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