This past weekend I devoured a new tell-all book by Hugh Sinclair, Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic. It's a disquieting read, especially for someone like me who was deeply engaged in international microfinance especially in the early years.
In an important coordinated effort, ten pilots around the world are experimenting with a model initially developed by BRAC in Bangladesh that helps extremely poor families build assets and capabilities and ultimately "graduate" into sustainable livelihoods.
A new whistleblowing book by British microfinance expert Hugh Sinclair exposes a particularly painful truth: What has been promoted as a charity structured to empower the poor in fact is camouflage for heavy-handed loan sharking that regularly victimizes its so-called beneficiaries.
It is difficult to know how any one of us can make a difference in any of our nation's most troubling problems. But, what if the money stored in our wallets had a new purpose, even just for a short amount of time?
While the Andhra Pradesh crisis caused significant changes and challenges within the Indian microfinance industry, the general consensus seems to be that the introduction of regulation into the sector is productive.
We need continued product and business model innovation so that we can reach more people with a broader range of products at lower costs. What is needed instead is a variety of financial service providers that create an ecosystem that serves the poor profitably.
As we watch a devastating drought unfold in the Sahel for the third time in less than a decade, putting millions at risk of hunger, it occurs to me that perhaps the international community has been responding to these crises over the years with a lot of heart, but maybe not as much head.
As international development practitioners, we realize that food-based responses, while immensely valuable for basic survival in times of crisis, are not always the most effective in promoting sustainable, long-term recovery and resiliency.
Access to financial services for the rural poor provides an important tool that can help women and their families be resilient in the face of drought and conflict and respond to health shocks and other uncertainties.
The slum communities are densely packed, with winding paths that have no street names, let alone house numbers, and so although Nilesh has spent time in these neighborhoods, he must often rely on the local residents to be pointed in the direction of the next client.
There's no doubt that the global problem of poverty and its solutions are complex, which is why the microfinance industry needs to approach them with eyes wide open and insist on transparency and results.
The U.S. microenterprise field is over 25 years old now, and there are hundreds of organizations that will be looking at leadership transition over the coming years. What's the best way to engage the best and the brightest of the Millennials to step up?
It is time organizations began recognizing the immense payoff that women offer not only in the United States and in the industrialized nations around the world but also in emerging and developing economies.
As we celebrate our success in defeating global poverty, let's not forgot the portion of those still caught in its trap, struggling to reach the bottom rung - and the innovative solutions being deployed to get them there.