Microfinance has been both praised and criticized, but on what basis are these judgments being made? Taking a closer look at how microfinance institutions (MFI) are evaluated there seems to be a disconnect between the goals and measurable results. This has created a danger for MFIs to tout themselves as real do-gooders when in fact they are mere bottom feeders, preying on the poorest of the poor, charging exorbitant interest rates and making a killing.
In Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, Pierre, a young noble, does some philanthropic work in the Russian wastelands. His projects complete, he is thanked profusely by the women, peasants and priests, whom he thought he had benefited. Satisfied, he returns home full of self-worth. However, it soon becomes clear that Pierre had not helped anyone. In fact—working without cultural context or experience—he has aggravated the situation.