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Is women empowerment a zero sum game? unintended consequences of microfinance for women empowerment in GhanaPurpose: Against the background of growing concerns that development interventions can sometimes be a zero-sum game, this paper examines the unintended consequences of microfinance for women empowerment in Ghana. Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a participatory mixed-method approach including household questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews to investigate the dynamics of microfinance effects on women in communities of different vulnerability status in Ghana. Findings: The results of hierarchical regression, triadic closure and thematic analyses demonstrate that the economic benefits of microfinance for women is also directly associated with conflicts amongst spouses, girl child labour, polygyny and the neglect of perceived female-domestic responsibilities due to women’s devotion to their enterprises. Originality/value: In the light of limited empirical evidence on potentially negative impacts of women empowerment interventions in Africa, this paper fills a critical gap in knowledge that will enable NGOs, policy makers and other stakeholders to design and implement more effective interventions that mitigate undesirable consequences.