Microcredit in the Ottoman Empire: a review of cash waqfs in transition to modern banking

Karagedikli G., Tunçer A. C.

in: Financing in Europe: Evolution, Coexistence and Complementarity of Lending Practices from the Middle Ages to Modern Times , Marcella Lorenzini,Cinzia Lorandini,D'Maris Coffman, Editor, Palgrave Macmillan, London , London, pp.239-268, 2018

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, London 
  • City: London
  • Page Numbers: pp.239-268
  • Editors: Marcella Lorenzini,Cinzia Lorandini,D'Maris Coffman, Editor
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This paper explores the credit activities of cash waqfs in the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century by relying on original waqf registers. It conceptualises cash waqfs as microcredit organisations, and questions the established view that they went into decline in the nineteenth century at the face of competition with the formal credit institutions. With the help of a new dataset we provide a picture of the geographical distribution of cash waqfs and bank branches in the Ottoman Empire across the century. We suggest the proliferation in the number of cash waqfs and bank branches during this period imply that cash waqfs complemented the activities of the modern banks rather than competed. In this regard, they may have contributed to mitigate the social costs of nineteenth century globalisation.