Raiffeisenism Abroad: Why Did German Microfinance Fail in Ireland But Prosper in the Netherlands?
Christopher L. Colvin
Queen's University Management School
University of Edinburgh
February 1, 2012
European University Institute Working Paper No. MWP 2012/01
What was the recipe for the success of Raiffeisen’s banking model? What made it possible for imitations of this German rural cooperative microfinance institution to work well in some European countries, but fail in others? This paper answers these questions with a comparison of Raiffeisenism in Ireland and the Netherlands. Raiffeisen banks arrived in both places at the same time, but had drastically different fates. In Ireland they were almost wiped out by the early 1920s, whilst in the Netherlands they proved to be a long-lasting institutional transplant. Raiffeisen banks were successful in the Netherlands because they operated in a niche market with few viable competitors. Meanwhile, rural financial markets in Ireland were unsegmented and populated by long-established incumbents, leaving little room for new players, whatever their perceived advantages. Whereas Dutch Raiffeisen banks were largely self-financing, closely integrated into the wider rural economy and took advantage of socioreligious division, their Irish counterparts did not.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Raiffeisenism, cooperative banking, microfinance, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands
JEL Classification: G21, N20, N50, N80, P13, Z12working papers series
Date posted: March 9, 2012
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