International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Professor Cynthia Caron

Second Reader

Professor Jude Fernando

Third Reader

Professor Denise Humphreys Bebbington


The future of an estimated 20,000 Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Ethiopia is uncertain because they lack legal status and, therefore, are unable to access funds and service for their members. The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) does not recognize the SHGs as unique development groups, but only offers to register them as Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) or cooperative societies, which are solely economic entities that serve more narrow functions than SHGs do. There has not been any coherent explanation for why the SHGs need a formal status, but should not register as anything but SHGs. From May to August 2015, I examined 181 SHGs organized by the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church in Jimma, Hawassa, and Adama towns. My mixed research method approach finds that the SHG approach is an endogenous development model. As endogenous development groups, the SHGs need a legal status in order to mobilize resources towards their development. Were SHGS to register as MSEs or cooperatives, as recommended by the GoE, they would compromise their endogenous development principles. Therefore, Ethiopian policy makers should expand the existing registration framework to recognize SHGs’ endogeneity, which would permit them to operate freely without compromising their endogenous features. This study has implications for SHG-related research and implementation by locating SHG within a coherent theoretical framework.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.