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Community relations and child-led microfinance: a case study of caregiving children in Kenya

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Rampant levels of AIDS and poverty have made many children in sub-Saharan Africa the primary caregivers of their ageing or ailing guardians. This paper reports on a social action fund initiative that brought caregiving children together to set-up and run income generating activities as a group with the aim of strengthening their coping capabilities. To further our understanding of child-led microfinance activities, this paper explores how intra-community relations can both facilitate and undermine child-led activities, and how these activities in turn can further strengthen some intra-community relations. Twenty-one children (aged 12-17) and six guardians participated in this study. Data included draw-and-write compositions (n=21), essays (n=16), workshop notes and proposals (n=8) and in-depth interviews (n=16). A thematic analysis revealed that the children actively drew on the expertise and involvement of some guardians in the project as well as on each other, developing supportive peer relations that helped strengthen their coping capabilities. However, the children's disenfranchised position in the community meant that some adults took advantage of the child-led activities for their own personal gain. Some children also showed a lack of commitment to collective work, undermining the morale of their more active peers. Nevertheless, both guardians and the children themselves began to look at caregiving children differently as their engagement in the project began to earn them respect from the community - changing guardian/child relations. The paper concludes that microfinance interventions targeting children and young people must consider children's relationships with each other and with adults as key determinants of Project success. © 2010 Taylor and Francis.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/33388/

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