Critics of microfinance have knocked down an army of straw men in recent years, and 2011 was no different. But it’s high time for microfinance practitioners to stop being defensive. We know enough about the perils and potentials of poverty-focused microfinance to address the real needs of the poor.
The following was originally posted by BRAC USA President and CEO Susan Davis on the World Education blog.With the Education for All goals and the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015 on our minds, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about measurements of educational quality, rather than a simple push for increased student enrollment in developing countries.
Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, founder of Bandhan, has been considered the “poster boy” of the microfinance industry in India. Many people may be unaware that Gosh actually spent most of his time in Bangladesh.
If you want to help spur the economy and improve people’s lives over the long term in a place like Uganda – the youngest country on earth, with a median age of 14 – then you have to talk and listen to young people like Brenda Masika. That’s one of the key lessons of BRAC’s partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, which has enabled a speedy scale-up in a country facing a massive youth bulge.
Last year, independent researchers from London School of Economics, University College London, and the World Bank completed a two-year impact assessment of a girls’ empowerment program in Uganda, Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA), one of the components of a partnership between BRAC and The MasterCard Foundation.
Forty years ago, British economist E.F. Schumacher, one of the fathers of the Green movement, declared that “small is beautiful” and called for “a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.” The retort from mainstream economists was swift and scathing: “Small is stupid.” Without economies of scale, they argued, developing societies would never develop the efficiencies needed to modernize.
The number of people worldwide reached by microfinance institutions (MFIs) fell in 2011, the first time in 13 years, according to the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s (MSC) brand new report.