Microfinance has been unsuccessfully deployed as a poverty reduction strategy in the Global South. However, despite advocates acknowledging this shortcoming, the sector continues to grow. Moreover, over the past decade it has expanded its geographic scope, targeting poor communities in the Global North under the banner of financial inclusion. This article investigates the growth of the Australian sector. Analyzing the impacts of reforms to Australia's social security system alongside the political economy of the microfinance industry, it argues the debtfare state in Australia has provided fertile ground for microfinance's expansion. Documenting the advocacy strategies and tools to target vulnerable communities used by microfinance organizations and corporate partners, it charts how government support and subsidies have created a favourable regulatory environment, driving the sector's growth. This has benefitted these coalitions while displacing other forms of social security, despite the lack of robust evidence demonstrating microfinance's benefits for the poor.
- social security