Microfinance is the provision of small loans, acceptance of small savings deposits, provision of insurance and other financial services such as 'bill-payment and money-transfer facilities, (and) financial literacy training' to which poor people do not readily have access (Rogaly and Fisher, 1999: 1). Microfinance has grown out of the realisation that:

people on low incomes are often excluded from access to financial services;

the debt cycle is often endemically linked to the maintenance of household poverty;

people in poverty can and do save; and do not necessarily represent a higher credit risk; and

small savings and loans can significantly contribute to the economic well-being of individuals and households.