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The theories and frameworks
This chapter will explain about the related theories and frameworks in order to draw the scope of this dissertation which helps to explain and analyse the Grameen Bank service.
2.1 The poverty and financial accessibility
2.1.1 What is poverty? And what is the reason for poverty?
The poverty has always been in the concern of national governments and international institutions. However, the definitions of poverty and how to measure it have been very varied and debatable.
In some way, the term poverty can be simply explained as the lack of money and income. According to the World Development Report (2000), whose income less than 2$ for a day is defined to live in poverty which reflects about half of the population in the world (Singh, 2003: 3). Moreover, the people who lives under 1$ per day is facing extreme poverty which covers almost a billion people in the world (Yunus, 2007: 3).
The way to estimate the poverty can be the increasing in GNP (Gross National Product) per capita or the decreasing headcount under poverty line (White, 2008: 26). However, this method has been criticized that it overlooks other important dimensions and does not concern about the inequality (White, 2008: 26). The growth itself does not reflect the advancement in the living standard at all (Clark, 1991: 23).
As a result, the development literature more broadly to cover other aspects which concern mainly on the related human features, social environment and the political participation as the indicators of poverty. The factors which impact on the living standard include asset, health condition, child mortality, education, security, life expectancy, shelter and access to essential resources (Clark, 1991: 20). The countries tend to adopt the human development along with the GNP growth. It reflected in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)‘s human development index (HDI) which covered , GDP per capita , life expectancy and education accomplishment (White, 2008: 26).
After identifying the poverty, the next important issue is the reason behind the poverty. The answer is also unclear because the factors which contributing to poverty is varied and complicated. The poor have struggled in the poverty trap because the causes of poverty seem to complement each other. White (2008: 25) describes the poverty trap as the susceptible condition for those to plunge into poverty and hard to escape. Robert Chambers simply catergorised the main factors which contribute to the poverty are physical weakness, isolation, vulnerability and powerlessness (Clark, 1991: 21).
2.1.2 The important of financial accessibility
In order to solve the poverty, there is a need to attack on one or more factors that contributing the poverty cycle. Since, they initially had no enough money or start-up assets, they are not able to smooth consumption, run small businesses to earn income or engage in regular educational system to get a job. Moreover, the sickness and the natural disaster which lead to the suIDen loss in income also made them so vulnerable (Magner, 2007: 11-12).
Therefore, one way to help the poor is to let them access the source of income or promote financial accessibility. Zander (1997:47) points out the importance of the both short term and long term increasing in income for the poor in order to reduce poverty and build up the asset for sustainably effects. Thus, the access of credit market is an acceptably one opportunity for the poor to get out of poverty.
A numbers of scholars stress how the accessibility to the financial market especially the credit market is relevance to the development in countries. Gangopadhyay and Lensink (2005: 2) convinces that since the valuable opportunity in the market are not being utilized suitably, the failure in accessibility to the formal credit market means a vanishing in national output. Furthermore, the inability to access to the credit market is the main barrier for the development in many poor counties (Aghion, 1999: 79). Shabana, Kaur and Litt (2011: 90) suggests that the credit is one of the essential components in the route of economic development.
However, to get the poor access the credit market is not an easy task .The financial accessibility promotion is apparently obstructed by the problem of market failure.
2.2 The failure in credit market for the poor and the microfinance
The neoclassical regime has been broadly accepted since 1980s. It embraces the free market and believes that the information is able to move freely among actors in the market.
However, what really happen is not very appealing. The market showed many disorders and cannot work properly corresponding to the free market. Stiglitz (1986) explained in Lepenies (2008: 22) that due to the fact that asymmetric information is prone to take place in most market, the neoclassic hypothesis seems to be useless. The imperfect information affects on individuals decision and may cause the market failure. Lepenies (2008: 20) stated that, it may lead to high transaction cost.
The market failure as a result of asymmetric information is a common phenomenon in the credit market for the poor. It is usually happens when one actor has no enough information about the other actor to make correct decision (Mishkin, 2008: 37). The inequality which is likely to take place before the transaction is made is called the adverse selection. It happened when the prospect borrowers have tendency to construct an unwanted behavior and outcome which called the bad credit risk (Mishkin, 2008: 37). On the other hand, the trouble produced by asymmetric information after the transaction has been taken place is called the moral hazard. It is the risk that the borrowers may employ in actions which are harmful since it may increase the potential to default (Mishkin, 2008: 38). Both of these situations are the asymmetric information which is the major problem leads to the failure in the credit market.
The adverse selection happened when the bank has no enough information of poor costumers. The poor who have a few assets like land or houses as necessary collateral made the bank hardly able to estimate their financial status. So, the bank cannot guarantee their repayment ability. As a result, they hesitate to provide the loan which is the barriers for the poor to access to the formal credit regime (Zander, 1997: 45; Lepenies, 2008: 22-23)
Moreover, the screening and monitoring the using of the loan by the poor is also problematic because it reflects the ability to pay back the loan. The difficulty in loan repayment can be resulting from the non-productive use by the borrowers (Zander, 1997: 46). Stiglitz (1990: 351) explains that “[A]a major problem for institutional lenders is ensuring that borrowers exercise prudence in the use of the funds so that the likelihood of repayment is enhanced”. Thus, if the bank (mistakenly) lend to the one who is genuinely too poor or lacks of financial discipline, it might lead to the defaults. The success and failure of the loan mainly depends on the quality of the pre-evaluation (Zander, 1997: 46). As convincing by Gangopadhyay and Lensink (2005: 2), in many poor areas the moral hazard is dangerous when borrowers do not have sufficient and adequate collateral to cover the borrowers’ behavior.
Therefore, the formal credit system calls for the collateral and complex processes and procedures because the bankers do not assure in the poor’s credit-worthy and the ability to repay the loan (Singh, 2003: 2). Although the formal credit system charged low interest rate comparing to the informal system, the poor still cannot access to the formal credit market because of the fact that they had no enough required collateral. Singh (2003: 3) verifies that very small part of the poor is supplied by the formal credit system.
Another way for the poor to get the money is that they turn to the informal credit market. Borrowing- lending mechanism often construct within family members or communities. Singh (2003: 2) stated that the informal lending which contain of traditional moneylenders, pawnbrokers and trade specific lenders is comparatively simple and fast for emergencies uses. However, they are regularly come with the high interest rate, which reflects the cover the estimated default risk or the exploitation of the lender (Singh, 2003: 2; Stiglitz, 1990: 351).
As mentioned above, the access of credit market is very important for the poor as a one opportunity to get out of vicious cycle. As stated by Haque (2000: 234), credit is a relevant instrument for poverty reduction. However, there is a dominant problem in the lending market. The ideal loan for the poor should be cheap, simple and collateral free which is the combination of the characteristics of both formal and informal systems. This concept originates the microfinance scheme.
2.2.1 The concept of Microfinance
To provide the credit market for the poor, the microfinance is developed. It is a kind of financial intervention that is likely to use to fight with the poverty and encourage the economic growth in the many developing areas. The role and principle of microfinance is described by many scholars.
Shabana, Kaur and Litt (2011: 90) refers it as a small scale financial services such as micro-saving and credit. Khandker (2001: 1) describes that microfinance means transactions in small amounts of both credit and saving, involving mainly small-scale and medium-scale businesses and producers. Ghosh (2005) also elucidates the role of microfinance that it tries to promote small scale financial service both credit and deposit to the poor who operated enterprise. The similar explanation of concept is given by Singh (2003: 2), Shabana, Kaur and Litt (2011: 90) and Sims (2006) that the microfinance is provided to support poor in their usual activities, emergencies and help them to set up and expand micro-enterprises. Importantly, it is provided to whom is not qualified for the traditional banking (Haque, 2000: 228).
Moreover, Singh (2003: 4), Shabana, Kaur and Litt (2011: 90) and Haque (2000: 228) also mention about long term development objectives of the microfinance apart from the ‘credit’ issues. They agree that microfinance also combine to promote other social aspects which are aiming to improve the quality of life and living standard of the poor. It is not only providing credit but also help to promotes in the long term beneficial things for poor (Denham, 2012: 5; Haque, 2000: 228). It is one of the greatest social programme.
To summarise, the microfinance is another important tool to relief the poverty problem in the developing countries. Its impact goes further than the capital accessibility and covers to promote the increasing in income and assets (Magner, 2007: 7). The service recognises that both income and social conditions are important component for the development in the society. Many microfinance institutes are established in rural areas, The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) in Peru, The Banco Solidario (BancoSol) in Bolivia, The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), including the famous Grameen bank in Bangladesh, a successful pioneer. The great accomplishment of microfinance that allowed millions of the poor to find the way out of poverty with dignity was praised by the president of the World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn in 1996 (Yunus and Jolis, 2011).
2.3 Neoliberalism and poverty reduction through NGOs participation
The microfinance achievement is under the support of the local government, international donors and NGOs because it is the new hope to solve their main concern –poverty. It lead to largest financial intervention in history (Arora and Meenu 2010: 44).This kind of intervention is considered to be a new tool following the neoliberal schemes which encourages the third sector, NGOs, civil society social capital to be the main engine for poverty alleviation. This section will explain some brief history and the background of this concept in order to understand the characteristic and the reason behind the operation of microfinance.
After the failure of the modernisation to solve the poverty in developing counties, the world is influenced by new development discourse, ‘neoliberal’, under the globalisation. In the 1980s, many countries embraced neoliberal and free market as a mainstream for development. The core concept is to reduce government intervention support privatisation, deregulation, infrastructure and increasing role of NGOs. The neoliberal discourse was promoted by the president Reagan of United States of America (USA)’s the Washington consensus through the IMF and the World Bank operation in term of promoting the good governance and sound macroeconomic in the market. Since the old large government is a default, the good governance is raise up to take over the role (Hettne, 2008: 9)
The good governance is promoted to dissolve the poverty problem in many developing countries through since 1990s. Jenkins (2008: 516) defines it as a prevail pattern by which public power is applied. The World Bank reviews that, their official aim is to implant the disciplines of capitalist competition and encourage the transformation in developing countries by enhancing NGOs workers and civil society which is the strategies behind those aim. Neoliberalism is likely to solve the poverty through the NGOs supports (Cammack, 2004: 206; Jenkins, 2008: 516). Especially for the fragile government with lacking of authority sovereignty efficiency in many post colonial countries, the NGOs role is more dominant (Karim, 2008: 6).
2.3.1 Social capital, civil society building and NGOs
Following the neoliberal concept, the third sectors (NGOs), the civil society, are seen as useful for the economic growth and development in developing countries. Therefore, in this section will explain about the working of NGOs and civil society building. However, we cannot able to understand them clearly without understanding in the social capital concept as a root of the explanation.
Social capital
Social capital is defined by some scholars. World Bank defined it as ‘the norms and social relations embeIDed in the social structures of societies that enable people to coordinate action to achieve desired goals’ (Ito, 2003: 333). Fukuyama (2001: 7) describes that “social capital is an instantiated informal norm that promotes co-operation between two or more individuals”. Moreover, Bebbington (2008: 132-133) points out the effect of social capital that have to make benefit for both individual and community level in economical, social and political dimension. However, the definition which is the acceptable and more comprehensive is defined by famous Robert Putnam in his book, Making Democracy work in year 1993 .He describes that” Social capital here refers to features of social organisation, such as trust, norms and networks that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated actions” (Putnam, 1993: 167). From all views, they stress some important factors which are trust norms and network that encourage the relationship and collaboration among people. These three are collective stocks that tend to be self-reinforcing to making the work success (Putnam, 1993: 167- 177).
The first thing to mention here is the network in civic engagement, Putnam (1993: 173) states that the network which brings together people from comparable status and power called horizontal network, conversely, the connection between the unequal agents is called vertical network. This network is important and necessary pattern for the social capital because it allows the people to engage, communicate and collaborate for their mutual interests which may encourage the information-flow and the advancement in trustworthiness (Putnam, 1993: 174).
The norm is a fundamental component to support the social capital. Wide ranges of the norms can constitute social capital, from two people to complicated cooperation Fukuyama (2001: 7). Almost everyone, complies with it. The norm especially comprehensive reciprocity is considered to be useful and important element because it helps to decrease the uncertainty, lower transaction costs and produce a good example in the prospect collaborations (Putnam, 1993: 172, 177).
The trust is a product of the strong establishment of norms and networks. One who is to be trusted is due to the arising of both conditions (Putnam, 1993: 171, 177). The powerful norms and intense network help to build up the trustworthiness of other players through the interaction in the individual level. Trust can spread in the mechanism of ‘I trust you, because I trust her and she assures me that she trusts you’ (Putnam, 1993: 169). It can easily generate the reputation among actors. Group applicants absolutely need this good reputation in honestly and reliability (Putnam, 1993: 168).
The relationship of three factors of social capital is complementary. The greater trust helps to build more collaboration and the collaboration itself also supports trust (Putnam, 1993: 171). The strong social network is usually associated with the efficient generalised reciprocity norm which generates the minimising in uncertainty and building up the trustworthiness (Putnam, 1993: 168,172). However, the horisontal network is more consistent to maintain social trust than the vertical network (Putnam, 1993: 174; Lewis, 2011: 128).
After identifying the social capital concept, it is important to mention how the social capital is built. Fukuyama (2001: 17) points out that the social capital is the feature or product that lies outside the government authority. Hence, it will be benefit for the poor countries if the social capital was building up strongly because it is able to act as a substitution for the fragile government. For poor countries, where the institutions for contract enforcement is mostly malfunction and weak, the social capital specifically crucial (Feigenberg, Field and Pande 2010: 2; Ito, 2003: 322). As a result, this advantage of social capital is being utilized as an instrument of the neoliberal to enhance the development.
Social capital is an important source of the poor to get access to the service which is important to the development and poverty reduction. The social capital make the poor able to get accesses the financial, educational and health service (Bebbington 2008: 135). Harriss (2001: 84-89) states that the connection enhances the information sharing which increases the chance to engage in the important service. The one good example is the accessibility in group lending of the Grameen Bank.
Civil society and NGOs
Social capital contributes to explain the success of NGOs and civil society building. The form of horizontal trust and reciprocity which produced in the civil society is called social capital (Rooy, 2008: 520; Putnam, 1993: 177; Lewis, 2011: 128; Kabeer and Mahmud, 2010: 48).
The civil society is usually associated with the international aid and NGOs sponsorship. Mohan (2008: 47) proclaims it as the kingdom of NGOs. It is the product of the neo-liberal schemes which aim to promote the good governance in the developing countries. The civil society and NGOs, thus, have become primary component of the donor-led ‘good governance’ promotion (Kabeer and Mahmud, 2010: 49). They are part of the World Bank international development agenda in poverty reduction (Lewis, 2011: 131).
The idea of civil society becomes more popular in 1980s-1990s. It is under the assumption that the civil society is voluntary actors or groups which emerges between the gap of market, state and households and acts as a watchdog or an alternative to correct the imperfection roles in those actors (Rooy, 2008: 520; Kabeer and Mahmud, 2010: 48-49 ; Lewis, 2011: 125-126; ADB, 2012)
As mention earlier, the failure in the formal credit market lead to the rise in the role of social capital, NGOs working and civil society. Microfinance is the one form that NGOs used to cope with the poverty reduction. Ito (2003: 322-323) and Rankin (2002: 4) point out that where both the state and the market and have not worked functionally, microfinance is a very good example of the successful case in the use of the social capital for poverty alleviation.
However, the form of third actors to promote the good governance is considered to be the new way to embed the capitalism regime in the third world. The rent-seeking behavior is rooted in the developing countries due to the rise of the neoliberal regime (Kabeer and Mahmud, 2010: 48; Karim, 2008: 7). It is a western discourse which tries to export to other countries. Furthermore, aid and funding from donors create the relying condition of southern to northern countries (Mohan, 2008: 47). It distorts the third world economy by favouring the government who is likely to satisfy the donors (Yunus and Jolis, 2011).
2.4 Women’s empowerment
In this section, we will move to discuss the issue of women’s empowerment. Due to the fact that the women are the major clients of the microfinance (about 94 % of the Grameen Bank participants) and women’s empowerment is one main aim of the microfinance, the definition and the concept of women’s empowerment are essentially concerned.
The women’s empowerment initiative is absolutely rooted from the problems against the women. Trotz (2008: 352) convinces that the women especially in the third world are the victims of the colonialism culture and violence within families. Thus, there is a growing attention from international organisations in the issue of women’s empowerment. The 1990s UN development program, World Bank, Oxfam and NGOs serve women’s empowerment as the essential components of the development (Parpart, 2008: 355).
The definitions of the indicators of women’s empowerment are not very different within the scholars. The United Nations Population Information Network (POPIN) clarified that the empowerment consists of five elements, “Women’s sense of self-worth, their right to have access to opportunities and resources, their right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home, their right to have and to determine choices, their ability to influence the direction of social changes to create a better social and economic order, nationally and internationally” (Denham, 2012: 7). Schuler and Hashemi (1994:67) states in Bernasek (2003 : 374) that the women has been empowered when they has been promoted in the “relative mobility, economic security, ability to make various purchases on her own, freedom from domination and violence within her family, political and legal awareness, and participation in public protests and political campaigning”.
From the above instances, the way to estimate the women’s empowerment is able to be clarified and summarised and into some aspects. Firstly, there should be the rising in the power, right and freedom to make own decisions. It includes the power and right to be against violence in households and the freedom of mobility or called by Denham (2012: 12) as the independency. Secondly, there should be the rising in the right to access to the economic resources for their security and stability. Finally, there should be the increasing in an ability to participate in public space and influences political and economical dynamics.
In the next chapter, it will explain some apparent and relevant background in Bangladesh which are the poverty problem, the women status, the development of NGOs and the credit market in Bangladesh. Moreover, the birth of the Grameen Bank and how the Bank operates will be also elucidated in the following chapter.
Chapter 3: The poverty, credit system, the development of NGOs and women status in Bangladesh and the birth of Grameen Bank
In several decades ago, many development institutes have turned to spot on Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, when the new innovative microfinance service ‘the Grameen bank’ showed the success in their operation. The Grameen Bank experiment which was established in Chittagong in 1976 by Muhamas Yunus, Nobel peace prize winner, finally became a bank in 1983 (Singh, 2003: 3). The Grameen bank not only serves as a new hope for the poor within the countries, this new service makes the microfinance system become more broadly acceptable as the international model to resolve the poverty (Barr, 2005: 273; Develtere, 2005: 165; New York Times, 1997; Amin et al., 2003: 59-60).
However, before explaining the birth of the Grameen Bank, it is necessary to mention and understand some relevant situations like the poverty problem after the independence, an inefficiency financial market, the inferiority of women in society and the development of NGOs in Bangladesh because they are the important initiative ideas for the operation of the Grameen Bank and the underlying factors which determines the Bank’s desire outcome.
3.1 The situation and the problems in Bangladesh
3.1.1. The poverty and the credit market in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is the landlocked country which locates in the south Asia. After the independence in the 16th December 1971, Bangladesh has suffered a lot from the poverty problem which rooted from the long colonial war period against Pakistan. This country was claimed as one of the poorest countries in the world (Develtere, 2005: 165). Most of Bangladeshi people were poor and possessed a few assets. It reflected over half of the total population (Hague, 2000: 228). Lewis (2011: 14) reviews that in 1980s no less than half of the total population was the landless. Most of them were unskilled and also illiterate (Auwal and Singhal, 1992: 9). Moreover, due to the fact that the country always got attacked by the cyclone and natural disasters, the famine was commonly found in many areas (Lewis, 2011: 17). It made the people became more vulnerable. The massive poverty was everywhere.
Furthermore, the basic institutions that suppose to take a main role in the country are significantly weak. The financial institution is considerably one of the concerns. The formal financial system showed lack of efficiency when the poor especially in rural area are not able to access to the financial service. The availability of the credit was restricted due to the backward in financial market (World Bank, 2005: 38). Haque (2000: 229) points out that the formal banking system mainly concentrates and favors the urban class who is considered to be the privilege. As a result, the poor especially the small entrepreneurs had no chance to set up their small businesses to earn income. The system often undertreated this particular group (World Bank, 2005: 38).
Nevertheless, the failure of the formal credit market is taken over by informal actors in rural areas. The poor who feel hopeless for the formal banking in Bangladesh turned to borrow the money from the informal lenders despite the massive high interest rate. Auwal and Singhal (1992: 9) reviews that they are forced to pay that expensive due to the claim of the people who acted as the miIDleman to provide the easy money to the poor. In aIDition, the theory goes; it is because of the asymmetric information that happens in the market.
3.1.2 The international aid and development of NGOs in Bangladesh.
What the long colonial root left behind was the fragile state and turmoil in the country. This situation attracted some outside assistances and the expansion of the NGOs. Karim (2008:7-8, 11-12) and Lewis (2011: 17) explain that due to the inefficiency and corruption of the failed state to solve the poverty, the western donors considered serving the NGOs to take the role as the mainstream suppliers of aid service in the many rural areas of Bangladesh. Furthermore, the expansion of NGOs in Bangladesh was claimed to constitute with the democratisation process in grassroots level (Karim, 2008: 11-12). It serves to protect legal voices and rights for the poor (White, 1999: 308). This movement fits the aim of Neoliberalism to promote the good governance to solve the poverty in the third world society. Owing to the weak state combines with the rise of Neoliberal scheme which promotes the market driven and the limitation of the state power, the NGOs then becomes an active route to solve the poverty (Nazneen, Hossain and Sultan, 2011:19).
Since 1980s, there was the growing attention from the western donors to Bangladesh. The country itself considered the NGOs service more reliable and effective than the weak state. Therefore, NGOs serves as the main engine in providing the public services to the poor in many rural areas. Since then the external assistances have taken the central position in Bangladesh economy both financing and authority (Lewis, 2011: 143). World Bank (2005: 16) suggests that the Bangladesh government admit in their inefficiency in providing the public service hence the state have chosen to leave a space for the NGOs to convey in many services. The main focuses are on the basic service for example, education, health, clean water, hygiene, human development, women’s empowerment , social safety development and including the microfinance (World Bank, 2005: 16; World Bank, 2010: 43-44; Nazneen, Hossain and Sultan, 2011: 19,26).
The operation of NGOs in Bangladesh shows a good accomplishment. World Bank (2005: 118,126) and White (1999: 307) assert that NGOs are the reason behind the Bangladesh developmental success which made this countries becomes a leading in NGOs. The one good example is the microfinance service which a success in their operation attracts the support and funding from donors. The advancement of the microfinance has been in the World Bank development framework (World Bank, 2005: 39). Karim (2008: 7) reveals that about millions dollars of external aid flow to support the NGOs work of microfinance. Furthermore, the system is able to reach about 65% of the poor in rural areas (World Bank, 2005: 16). The NGOs microfinance program including the Grameen bank is the main source providing the money to the poor. The Bank is considered to be one of the important agents to resolve the poverty (Lewis, 2011: 135).
3.1.3 The women status
Another important issue of consideration is the women situation in Bangladesh. In the rural society, the women are inferior against men both the social status and the opportunity to access the economical resources which comply with the traditional norms. Because the Bangladesh is an Islamese country, the women have to admit and live with the compulsory custom norms. For example, the women can be abandoned by her husband if the dowry does not sufficiently pay (Auwal and Singhal, 1992: 9).
Moreover one dominant norm is the ‘Purdah’. This norm strictly restricts in the women behavior and activities. The women’s actions reflect the family image and status in the rural society. Bernasek (2003: 370-371) and Karim (2008: 11) point out that the men have to take responsibility to certify the proper behavior of the women; consequently unsuitable activities of women are claimed as the men and families failure.
Furthermore, the Purdah norm creates a form of social control especially for the women. The shame is used as a powerful tool to control women behavior in the society. Karim (2008: 10) confirms that the women embarrassment has been rooted in rural Bangladesh society for a long time. In the rural face-to-face community, the honor is an important treasure of the poor; they are likely to protect a good reputation and avoid the shame (Karim, 2008: 10). In short, the norm of maintaining the honor which is a result of the Purdah is one factor for the social capital building.
The direct effect of the Purdah norm is the limitation of women lives both socially and economically. They only engage with housework and sometimes are judged by their parents as burdens (Auwal and Singhal, 1992: 9) .The women are poorer than men. They cannot be able to contact with non-family members; get the regular education and health service as same as men; participate in market and economic activities to earn money; involves in external work or get a regular job (Denham, 2012: 5; Lewis, 2011: 15 ; Mayoux, 2005). Bernasek (2003: 370-371) and Selinger (2008: 28) also state that the women are not able to access to the credit market and have their own account due to the lack of collateral like saving or assets, even they want a loan, it have to be under th

 
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