William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


This note examines the complicated relationship between microfinance and customary law. Microfinance, the practice of giving small, collateral-free loans to the poorest members of society, has gained great popularity in the last thirty years. These loan programs specifically target women and use women's traditional emphasis on groups to ensure success. Customary law can hinder microfinance ventures because of the restrictions these laws place on women's roles and responsibilities. Case studies on the Dominican Republic, Morocco, and Bangladesh explore how individual customary laws can hinder microfinance programs and women's micro-businesses. This note also discusses how microfinance programs act as catalysts of social change, affecting customary laws and women's status in their communities and homes.