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27.10.10

Value Through Diversity: Microfinance and Islamic Finance and Global Banking

Value Through Diversity: Microfinance and Islamic Finance and Global Banking
Nicoletta Ferro
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)
June 2005

Abstract: Internet resources, extended media coverage and international organizations' reports recently witness the increasing interest of western banks in new models of finance, particularly Islamic finance and microfinance. This new trend is not only channeled through the frame of corporate social responsibilities programs and policies or limited to ad hoc financial institutions (like microcredit banks or Islamic banks) as it is entering the financial offer of mainstream banks. The paper primarily outlines that many elements of microfinance could be considered consistent with the broader goals of Islamic banking. Apart from pure economic considerations which are not the aim of this analysis, the paper supports the thesis that by addressing new markets and embracing unconventional financial proposals, the global banking sector can contribute to the quest for diversity-oriented policies posed by an increasingly globalised scenario. The consequences this new trend is likely to have on inner banking structures are still unknown and are likely to interest the issue of wealth distribution. Moreover, from a more general point of view, by showing that even different moral ethos deep rooted in different cultural paradigms can be as profitable and available as western capitalistic ones, the banking sector can play a potential role in disseminating awareness on specific cultural and religious issues, resulting in increased integration of Muslim communities and low income investors in the long run and supporting commercial banks the close relation between economy and culture.
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