This study explores the entrepreneurial potential of the rule-breaking practices of microfinance programs’ beneficiaries. Using the storyboard methodology, we examine the strategies employed by the poor in Burundi to bypass institutional rules. Based on 66 short interviews conducted in seven rural provinces of Burundi, our exploratory study analyzes the entrepreneurial potential in four instances of rule-evasion: consumption spending, illegitimate investment, loan juggling and loan arrogation. We argue that some of the unruly practices are in fact entrepreneurial, as they create tangible and intangible value for the rural poor at both household and community levels. These include strengthening social ties through gift exchange and ceremonies, which then help poor households to self-insure against shocks through social networks. By analyzing the push and pull factors for unruly behavior, we show that rule-breaking practices are often necessitated by the microfinance industry itself and call for increased flexibility and adaptability of microfinance products.
- subsistence communities