|Microfinancial Structures and Strategies of Social Policy|
|This study will try to analyse how a microcredit and firstbanking character structure, the Monte di Pieta (MdP), had an important role of social policy and specially in the sustainability of the poor classes of Corfu (17th -19th cent.).
The history of solidaristic microfinance, which also belongs to today’s system of microcredit has ancient origins. The Monte di Pieta, developed in the name of piety, as a provider of microcredit is representative of the history of the social policy and economy of Corfu (Greece). In founding the MdP in Corfu the Authorities was more interested in preventing poverty than relieving it and the prevention was the aim of institutionalized charity forms.
The MdP has always pursued two fundamental missions: 1) to collect deposits from small savers, granting security, adequate interest and high liquidity of investment: 2) to lend loans to poor citizen.
Was destined to aid those were only needed economic help in order to leave a condition of necessity relying on personal ability related to the economic situation.
The primary goal was to enable the creation of wealth by the individual and reinforces indirectly the economic potential of the citizens. Was an advantageous economic venture for the clients, but also for the city. The city was alleviated from obligation to assist men and women who risked becoming really poor. For the city, the risk of potentially dangerous behaviors inspired by poverty diminished.
Throughout its long life, MdP was used as a tool of economic, financial and social policy of the Treasury. It always played a significant role. It was promoter of innovative solidaristic finance, it took part in the promotion of social initiatives. It has always been present, active and supportive in the fortunes and the misfortunes of the Corfiot society. The MdP has crossed all the institutional political regimes of Corfu, receiving greater or less autonomy from the central State. Its activity has never been interrupted and has always, more or less, been protagonist of the life of the Corfiot society from its foundation in 1630 to the 1900.
The method of historical research is based on documents, laws and financial statements, kept in the MdP’s archives.
The MdP was relevant for a variety of valuable social and economic reasons:
• Because it recognized in the economic activity a possible field of solidaristic action (a special kind of charity)
• Because it aimed to enable the less poor opportunity to free themselves from a marginal economic state
• Because it choose to operate at the level of the citizen, connecting the destinies of the rich with those of the less affluent
• Because had an important social contribution (donations, funds for widows and orphans, pensions, bequests, dowries, benefits to poorhouse etc.).
and also was:
• convenient economically, socially and ethically
• convenient to individuals as a collective and
• convenient to less affluent but also to the rich|