Rural Women’s Experiences with Money and Developmental Intervention: A Case Study in Semnan Province

Document Type : Research Paper


Associate Professor of Sociology, Faculty of Humanity, Garmsar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Semnan, Iran


This article tries to analyze the interaction between the implementation of a microfinance project in a rural area and the social and cultural infrastructure prevailing in the project site. In 2000, 53 women in a small village in central Iran formed an association of beekeepers with the support of a developmental intervention promoting microfinance as a strategy for poverty alleviation. Because of its initial success the association attracted national and international donors. Internal and external tensions, however, led the association to break up in 2010. After breaking up, they came together based on new smaller groups after two years; but in 2016 just a few of them were making money. My questions are these: What were the socio-cultural conditions that made it difficult for these women to continue working as a team? Why only a few of them are making money in final situation? Employing a mixed method, this paper attempts to answer these questions. Observation showed that two basic attributes, age and education of the association’s members, polarized the members into two categories, intensifying growing mistrust among the members of the association. Additionally, the diminishing trust among the members was exacerbated by the unintended consequences of different stakeholders’ and donors’ treatment of the association’s members. A combination of these factors led to the break-up of the association into five smaller groups after ten years.