Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban & Regional Planning


Urban Studies & Planning

First Advisor

Dr. Helen Ruth Aspaas


The following thesis is a qualitative comparative case study which investigated the values, practices, perspectives, and strategies of Indian and American community organizers (practitioners and volunteers of non-profits and non-governmental organizations) who use microfinance, including savings schemes, as an instrument within the social intermediation process of developing disadvantaged women's capacities for self-sufficiency/empowerment. The focused inquiry was conducted through similarly structured in-depth interviews of directors, staff members and volunteers/community-based organizers of a women's business center in Northern Virginia, a large U.S. metropolitan area, and a women's federation in the rural Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India. Interview questions focused on savings, social intermediation, and financial sustainability/subsidization, which are three significant facets of microfinance. Katz's framework for constructing analytical topographies, contour lines, and countertopographies was used to structure of the various levels of analysis. Contour lines were drawn from the similarities between the two organizations. Differences were explained by situating each organization in Mayoux's theoretical paradigms of "Women's Empowerment through Microfinance." Analyses concluded with the construction of countertopographies on practices and strategies aimed towards collectively empowering women in disparate places around the world.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008