Industry players are moving beyond the "scale and sustainability" mantra that dominated microfinance during the past 15 years, with its laser focus on rapid growth and credit. Instead they are reaching back to where they began -- the clients.
I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to South Africa, where I spoke about microlending, financial independence, and women's empowerment to more than 1,000 women during meetings held in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
It's a common misperception that the challenges women face are "soft" social issues. But the central role women play in society translates into a "butterfly effect" affecting ever-larger circles of humanity.
I would argue that the greatest benefit of technology to this part of the world is not just its ability to solve problems. Rather, technology brings something more, something transcendent: Technology brings empowerment.
On March 2, Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was abruptly forced from his position as managing director of Grameen Bank, the Bangladesh-based financial institution he founded thirty years ago.