Southeast Asia's Credit Revolution: From Moneylenders to Microfinance, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Southeast Asia's Credit Revolution

From Moneylenders to Microfinance, 1st Edition

Edited by Aditya Goenka, David Henley


220 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Southeast Asia’s Credit Revolution describes and explains the rise of microfinance – the provision of credit and other financial services for the poor – in Southeast Asia, over the past four decades the most consistently successful region of the developing world. In recent years microfinance has come to be seen as a key weapon in the battle against global poverty, generating more enthusiasm and optimism than any other development strategy.

Southeast Asia has a special place in the history of microfinance. Historically, Southeast Asian societies and economies were perceived as almost uniquely debt-ridden and credit-constrained. In the twentieth century, however, the region was in the forefront of the modern microfinance revolution. This book asks what factors have made it possible for formal microfinance institutions to replace moneylenders and other traditional credit providers.

Bringing together economists, sociologists, anthropologists and historians, the book covers seven Southeast Asian countries. The topic is explored from cultural and institutional as well as economic perspectives, and policy-relevant lessons are offered for the design of successful microfinance institutions. Focusing on recent developments while putting them in historical context, this will be an important text for scholars and students of economic history, finance, institutional economics, and Asian Studies.


"This work is a great antidote to the hype that has tended to surround microfinance, especially among students, as a panacea for poverty. It restores the historical record of the role that voluntary, informal, and state-promoted institutions played in microfinance in the region as long ago as the 19th century and is firmly grounded in the reality, both positive and negative, that empirical research reveals. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Students at all levels, faculty, and professionals." - J. H. Cobbe, CHOICE (May 2010)

"Goenka and Henley's appropriately titled collection of essays offers a broad perspective on financial institutions in Southeast Asia …The essays of the contributing authors provide insights and expertise using both qualitative and quantitative data from economic, sociological, anthropological, entrepreneurial, and developmental perspectives in a truly interdisciplinary approach to the study of finance in Southeast Asia." - Christina Dames, Journal of International and Global Studies Volume 4, Number 1 (November 2012).

"Goenka and Henley draw on an eclectic mix of social science and historical perspectives to paint a rich and nuanced picture of the past and present of credit in Southeast Asia… This volume adds value by juxtaposing historical and current policy tensions, drawing together evidence rarely found in one place – especially in such a succinct and accessible form… the book should become a much-appreciated resource." - Russell Toth, University of Sydney; Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies 2013.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: from moneylenders to microfinance in Southeast Asia Aditya Goenka and David Henley 2. Rural credit market imperfections and the role of microfinance Aditya Goenka 3. Old and new worlds of microfinance in Europe and Asia Hans-Dieter Seibel 4. Credit provision among Vietnamese small businesses Stephen J. Appold and Nguyen Quy Thanh 5. Pawnshops in Singapore: traditional microfinance in a modern society Selina Ching Chan and David T. Owyong 6. The Indonesian People's Credit Banks (BPR) Dirk Steinwand 7. Breaking down the barriers to microfinance: the Philippine case Benjamin R. Quiñones, Jr. 8. Economic theory meets evidence in rural Thailand: lessons for group lending Christian R. Ahlin 9. The effects of microcredit on the Orang Asli of Malaysia Angeline L. Ames and Todd T. Ames 10. Farmers in debt: the case of rainfed upland farmers in Northeast Thailand Sharon B. Singzon and Ganesh P. Shivakoti 11. Microfinance in Indonesia: evolution and revolution, 1900-2000 David Henley 12. Microfinance in Burma Sean Turnell

About the Editors

David Henley is a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden. He has written on diverse topics in the history of Indonesia, and currently coordinates an international research project on the comparative economic histories of Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Aditya Goenka is an economist at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include endogenous business cycles, economic growth, and credit market imperfections. He is currently working on the effect of infectious diseases on economic growth.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Growth Economies of Asia

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of the growth economies of Asia.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies