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Archive for the ‘women and development’ Category

top 3 ways for microfinance to get its groove back.

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

microfinance and political interference: is it unavoidable?

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The founder of Grameen bank (and now ousted chairman) and 2006 Nobel prize winner is currently being referred to as a blood sucking parasite by the government of Bangladesh. A man who has accomplished such so much in this poverty-stricken nation has moved from being referred to in saint-like terms to this. We are all smart enough to see that this is political interference at its best:  a few years ago, fresh from his Nobel Prize win, Yunus made a veiled threat to set up his own political party in Bangladesh and ever since then the government (namely one Sheikh Hasina) has done everything in their power to attempt to discredit by accusing him of corruption and theft to blaming him for stealing from the poor. (8.9 Billion poor women have benefitted from Grameen’s loans in teh past 10 years!)

The question is: is politics and microfinance  indelibly inter-twined or are they no-go areas for each side? On the one hand, regulation of microfinance institutions is extremely relevant and necessary to ensure that they are operating within their stated missions and not fleecing the unbanked, but on the other hand, independence between the government and microfinance is of extreme importance as it is not suitable for governments to exercise control over credit programs as this must remain the preserve of the Microfinance sector. There are some governments that get involved once they realise how successful the microfinance programs are as they also want ‘a piece of the action’ as has been seen in some parts of Africa. One example of favourable intervention by government was a few months ago in Nigeria where the state close over 200 microfinance institutions due to poor governance practices.

As with everything, a balance is called for: character assassination and elbowing occurs as we have seen in the case of Yunus then that’s the point that one has to say to the government ‘butt out’.  The microfinance community is 100% Yunus and hope that this situation is not repeated elsewhere.

do you really want to fight poverty? try girl power

February 10, 2011 1 comment

I read an interesting article last night from Nancy Gibb (Essay, Time magazine, February 14) talking about the best way to fight poverty: her idea is girl power, i.e invest in young women/girls in developing countries and you have the perfect recipe for economic development. She calls this the silent revolution not the noisy ones we have seen lately in the North of Africa and presents statistics such as the fact that in sub-saharan Africa, only 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school, half are married by the time they are 18 and girls under 15 are 5 times more likely to die giving birth. It is extremely thought-provoking that helping out women can make the impact as it is generally accepted that when women earn money they reinvest 90% of it back into their families (compared with men who reinvest just 30%). This is the thought process behind the soon to be launched peer-to-peer microfinance lending site Inuka.org. Inuka means ‘to rise up” in Swahili and the online platform will geared solely to lending to women owned businesses in sub-saharan Africa. The uniqueness of this model is that the lending will be done to women’s groups rather than individual women, and it will give the chance to social investors across Europe to help make a difference by investing in women. And this wont be charity as charity has been proven many times over to increase depency and not create real wealth and development. This exciting venture is set to take off in just a few weeks and is a partnership with myAzimia.org,(http://www.myazimia.org/) keep a watch on www.inuka.org