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Microfinance has been a nightmare for the Global South. Sri Lanka shows that there is an alternative

October 11, 2019
Ahilan Kadirgamar and Niyanthini Kadirgamar write how women’s groups and the co-operative movement are leading the way out of the debt trap promoted by microfinance strategies. Ahilan is a member of the Collective for Economic Democratisation. Niyanthini is a PhD Student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and was previously engaged with people affected by micro-credit in Sri Lanka. The

The case for Microfinance: responses to Milford Bateman from Malcolm Harper and Thankom Arun (and your chance to vote)

April 21, 2011

Has the microfinance bubble really burst? Guest blog by Milford Bateman

April 20, 2011

New books on development: bad microfinance; climate change and war; what works; inside the World Bank; mobile activism

July 21, 2010
One of the perks of writing a blog is that I can scrounge review copies of development-related books. I’m sure they’re all fascinating and I really want to read them but alas, they don’t come with extra hours in the day attached. So I now have a growing pile by my desk that is in danger of becoming a health

Between microfinance and big bank lending there is…. a Missing Middle

December 18, 2009
Credit is the lifeblood of farming – you need cash to plant seeds, buy fertiliser and stay alive long long enough to reap and sell your harvest and pay off your loan. But you can’t always get it when you need it. A new Oxfam research paper identifies one of the main market failures resulting from the retreat of the

Portfolios of the Poor – a great new book

October 13, 2009
Portfolios of the Poor gave me the same feeling of excitement as the World Bank’s epic ‘Voices of the Poor’ study. Both of them are the fruit of intense scrutiny of the real lives of poor people that uncovers insights and destroys stereotypes. Poor people are most definitely not financial illiterates, but often sophisticated managers of complex financial portfolios that

The great Microfinance debate: Comments on the Comments, some loose ends and some new info

August 27, 2009
Back from Bangladesh and still processing both the real life and blog discussions on microfinance institutions (MFIs), following last week’s post and the good debate in the comments. A few final (probably…) observations: Microcredit v Microfinance: point taken. A lot of the doubts and criticisms apply to microcredit (loans), not to the wider range of financial services (insurance, savings etc)

Microfinance again – the views of some Bangladeshi farmers

August 21, 2009
I spent some time yesterday with a group of 20 Bangladeshi small farmers (13 men, 7 women) linked to a sustainable agriculture NGO, Unnayan Dhara (sorry, they don’t yet have a website). Among other things (climate change, access to markets etc) I asked them about microfinance, given my post on Wednesday and the subsequent discussion on the comments. Here’s a

The backlash against microfinance

August 19, 2009
The intellectual battlefield of development is littered with magic bullets. New ideas or technologies such as the internet or mobile phones are picked up, promoted as panaceas that will end poverty and transform societies, and then rapidly cut down to size by scrutiny and research. That process seems to be well under way on microfinance. As it happens, I’m in

Poverty scorecards – a cheap way to identify who’s poor?

August 5, 2009
Finding out which people in any given community live below the poverty line is actually quite hard. Why do it? To target services like microfinance  (let’s not get into the targetting v universal provision argument here); comparing poverty rates in different regions and countries, and tracking changes over time. But both income and consumption poverty are hard to assess directly