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Posts Tagged ‘BRAC’

[fellows blog fodder]

People always enjoy picking things apart from a distance.  To me it seems like microfinance has taken a bit of a beating in the last eight months or so.  Most probably that’s because it was about eight months ago that I became immersed in this world when I started my fellowship as a KF9, my first foray into the industry.  But I also think it’s because of the rapidly growing attention microfinance has gotten over the last half-decade, from a nobel prize, to the proliferation of interesting organizations like Kiva and other online funders springing up, as well as bold claims like “microfinance will cure poverty.”

Microfinance’s publicity has paved the way for skeptics and critics to jump at the opportunity to point out every findable foible.  There’s been a fair amount of recent talk here on this blog, but also even running in places like the New York Times, about interest rates in the industry. Questions have emerged regarding whether or not it’s unfair to levy rates on the poor that some see as usuriously high (I’m making that word up if it doesn’t already exist).  And I won’t lie, my thoughts and feelings towards microfinance over the last two placements have been more sobering than rosy, and I’ve come to a lot more harsh realizations than poverty-eradicating epiphanies.  However, I think there is an important aspect that many long-distance observers miss, and its something that took being out in the field to notice about microfinance institutions and their role in the world.  So I’ll share. (more…)

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