Banking on Small Business: Micro?nance in Contemporary Russia

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Banking on Small Business: Micro?nance in Contemporary Russia

By Gail Buyske
Cornell University Press, 2007
240 pp. $35.00

Much of the literature on Russia's transition to capitalism fails to capture what is happening at the micro level. Although Buyske's primary purpose is not to shed light on the larger picture but rather to highlight the development of small business and the role of finance -- indeed, to use the Russian case to deepen understanding of microfinance in general -- her book speaks volumes on how much and how rapidly Russian society, not merely Russia's economic life, is changing. Buyske is a skilled banker who for six years chaired the board of directors of KMB, a small-business lending bank set up by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the wake of Russia's 1998 financial crisis. She not only explains the intricacies of commercial banking and poverty alleviation with wonderful clarity but also traces the heartening evolution of small-business activity in Russia, from its oppressed beginnings in the late Soviet period through four critical stages, including its remarkable maturation since 2000.

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