Microfinance is a psychological enigma. It is not in anyone's economic best interest to lend money to strangers without getting anything in return. Without interest or guarantee, what is the motivation to take on such financial risk? It seems more akin to charity than to banking. Is it? The fact is that we don't know the neuropsychological underpinnings of such selfless lending.
Decades ago, private capital flowing into developing countries was a small fraction of aid dollars. Since then, that private capital investment has grown roughly 100-fold and the ratio of aid to investment has flipped. Today, every $1 in aid to developing nations is dwarfed by nearly $7 in private investment.
The 10-year anniversary of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami will find the world in a sobering situation. Conflicts in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere continue without apparent end, while the World Health Organization calls the Ebola outbreak in three West African countries "the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times."
Why is it that despite new technologies and widespread innovation, today's financial sector provides such ill-fitting products and services to so many people and leaves so many more entirely unserved? We are missing a huge opportunity for business, policy and society alike - a missed opportunity with lasting negative effects