This thesis examines Fundación Paraguaya's Comité de Mujeres Emprendedoras (village banking) program and analyzes its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation, female empowerment and social change in Paraguay. The data for this thesis was collected over a three month period in 2007, and is based on interviews and file data from clients of the CME program. The research focuses on clients' work histories, their roles as micro-entrepreneurs and caregivers, and their experiences within the CME program. This thesis argues that in order to comprehend the significance of village banking in Paraguay, one must take into consideration the importance of self-employment for women who balance family and work, as well as the impact of capital and non-financial services. Although the CME program appears to be contributing to poverty alleviation and empowerment in Paraguay, this thesis contends that by adopting a more gender-oriented approach, and incorporating aspects of the "feminist empowerment paradigm," Fundación Paraguaya could create a more complete development tool, thereby increasing the potential benefits to women and promoting greater social change.
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