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Microcredit: Promise or Pitfall?

February 21, 2017

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Assistant Professor of Sociology Maryann Bylander has been awarded a $20K ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows grant. This competitive program provides grants for teams of students and faculty to conduct a summer project in East and Southeast Asia. Dr. Bylander’s team includes senior Lacey Jacoby, and sophomores Andrea Blobel-Perez and Peter Bradley. Their project, entitled “Loans that Change Lives: Interrogating Microcredit in Cambodia” will investigate microcredit and what it means for lenders, borrowers, microfinance institutions, investors, and development practitioners; how do these loans change lives; and, what does credit mean to these various groups? 

During the spring, the research team will interview microcredit donors and practitioners in Portland. In June, the team will travel to Cambodia—a country that has actively embraced microcredit as a development solution.  Working in collaboration with Khmer university students, the team will spend three weeks interviewing microcredit recipients, lenders, loan officers, development practitioners, and researchers in both urban and rural areas of Siem Reap—one of the most microcredit-saturated areas in the region—in order to capture a diverse range of perspectives on microfinance. This project was designed in collaboration with an organization Dr. Bylander helped found: PEPY Empowering Youth, a local NGO working to create educational opportunities for disadvantaged Cambodians.

After the fieldwork is complete, the research team will share their work—including a photovoice exhibition and oral presentation in Siem Reap, and a published journal article. The group will continue to collaborate after returning from Cambodia, and hopes to also present their outcomes at Lewis & Clark’s annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies, L&C’s Festival of Scholars, the annual Southeast Asia Symposium at the University of Puget Sound, and/or a regional professional Sociology meeting.

February 2017 

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