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COVID-19 and the Unequalizing Infrastructures of Financial Inclusion in Tamil Nadu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Isabelle Guérin, Vincent Guermond, Nithya Joseph, Nithya Natarajan, Govindan Venkatasubramanian

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-951
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Accepted/In press2021
PublishedJul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We are firstly very grateful to the many respondents that willingly gave up time to speak with us and share their stories and experiences. We are also grateful to Vivek Raja, Antony Raj and Radhika Kartikeyan who were key to enabling us to undertake data collection. The research used in this article was funded by the UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund (Ref: ES/T003197/1). Access requests to the data underlying this article should be addressed to Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Development and Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Institute of Social Studies Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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    Uploaded date:26 May 2021

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


This article discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on microfinance borrowers in Tamil Nadu, India. Through an examination of the social and financial infrastructures underpinning inclusive finance, the article demonstrates how the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the limits and exclusionary tendencies of the for-profit financial inclusion industry. The unequalizing breakdown of financial inclusion infrastructures during the pandemic prioritizes future revenue extraction over current livelihood needs, throwing hard-hit borrowers back on hierarchical informal financial and social infrastructures to cope with COVID-19-induced risk. Tracing the experiences of poor microfinance borrowers in Tamil Nadu, this article examines how COVID-19 is reshaping inclusive financial infrastructures in ways that reveal the dynamics of exclusion at the heart of financial inclusion.

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