Banking on Small Business

Banking on Small Business

Microfinance in Contemporary Russia
Gail Buyske

How do you prime the well of economic growth? First, put a negligible amount of money into exactly the right hands. Then, step back. A vibrant and rapidly expanding national economy needs an active small business sector, but small entrepreneurs need loans to expand their businesses. Microfinance also has potential to be an engine of economic growth, although this prospect has been overshadowed by its image as a tool for alleviating poverty.

In Banking on Small Business, Gail Buyske analyzes three themes in economic development: the global growth of microfinance, banking sector development, and Russian entrepreneurship. These three themes intersect at KMB, the Russian Small Business Bank, where Buyske chaired the board of directors for six years. This book is in part an account of KMB's role in initiating great changes through a series of apparently small actions.

In reviewing Russian entrepreneurship and banking since the advent of perestroika in the mid-1990s, Buyske stresses that Russian entrepreneurship is more dynamic than usually perceived and that the historic lack of small-business and start-up finance was largely owing to the practices of the Russian banking sector rather than to any failing on the part of Russian entrepreneurs. Buyske's conclusions have important implications for policy worldwide; she is confident that a broad understanding of microfinance as a profitable, rather than a charitable, endeavor will contribute to the commercial involvement needed to maximize global microfinance growth.