Many microfinance organisations are concerned about reaching the poorest sections of society, and are prepared to carry out screening procedures to identify these people. This article describes a pilot study to compare two such screening methods, the Visual Indicators of Poverty (VIP) test and the Participatory Wealth Ranking process (PWR), which have been used by the Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa. A study is described which demonstrates the inaccuracy of VIP, a system based on static, externally judged criteria, when compared to PWR, which uses local knowledge of individual poverty. The article also focuses on some of the challenges faced in designing a cost-effective operational system based on participatory mapping and wealth ranking.
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