Rural Remote Microfinance and Selfish Genes

Evolutionary biology and remote rural finance are not two disciplines that normally interact. However, selfish genes may provide an interesting metaphor for microfinance institutions particularly member-owned institutions in remote, rural areas. Richard Dawkins has written at length about what he calls the selfish gene. He used this term to explore the notion that certain genes are able to survive over time through seemingly conscious adaptive behavior. Particularly relevant for this discussion are the characteristics of selfish genes that allow them to learn and create stable systems over time that survive. This is especially true of rural areas where it is challenging for microfinance programs to survive in costly, unpredictable environments. Nevertheless, it is essential that solutions are sought in these contexts. The majority of the world, in particular the world’s poor, live in rural areas. In some areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa more than 80% of the population is rural. Microfinance cannot have a significant impact on poverty, nor can it claim to support inclusive financial systems, until it is able to significantly penetrate these areas and populations.

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