Microfinance received a nice fillip recently when Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama. While Yunus's rockstar status has helped put the access to finance agenda center stage, I wonder if it might obscure some of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps the phrase "credit bureaus" may not cause your heart to race, but in some countries this is really where the action is at.
access to finance
When I was growing up I heard a lot of stories about my grandfather. He died when I was a child so my recollection of him is a little hazy, but one thing sticks out very clearly in my mind: he believed in educating his daughters.
I just recently finished reading James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds, and I've been thinking a lot about how prediction markets could be mainstreamed into the work of development institutions.
Think you’ve got better money management skills than the world’s poorest? You might be surprised to find out that you’d be up against stiff competition.
Last month I wrote about the underwhelming results of a randomized control trial of microcredit in India. The long and short of it: access to credit helped increase business investment, but didn't have any noticeable effect on the things we really care about, like health and education. While it would perhaps be unfair to say that the study was a final verdict on microfinance, it was clearly a serious indictment.
A new World Bank working paper looks at the relationship between the financial sector and inequality. Don't care for redistributive social policies? Then financial sector reform is the way to go (or so say the authors):
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was calling for social media platforms that would allow donors and aid recipients to share their perspectives.
Some of the recent discussions around microfinance have been contentious, so I'll tread carefully here.
My recent post discussing the unflattering findings from a randomized control trial of microfinance prompted some heated discussion of just what evaluation can tell us in this context.
Daryl Collins, one of the authors of an important new book (Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day), discusses how the world's poorest manage their cash flows in an interview in The Boston Globe.