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Lofty or lowsy: microfinance under the microscope

Yasmine Cathell's picture

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.

Is credit just another form of cancer?

Yasmine Cathell's picture

Host brotherI was sitting at the dinner table in Cochabamba Bolivia, when my host brother asked: “How is it possible that Americans all have a car, a house and a big TV?” I think he was hoping I would let him in on some big secret but instead I explained that most Americans don’t actually own their car or house.

microfinance? maybe not in the traditional sense....

Christine Sedky's picture

When I arrived in Egypt I had a plan to retain traditional craftsmanship through the empowering development of microfinance.  I was in love with microfinance.  I loved that it was not a handout, that it was partnering with poor people to launch their own initiatives and that it seemed so empowering and dignifying.  So I had this vision that I was going to use microfinance, but I wasn’t sure which artisan skill I was going to focus on (initially I was leaning towards much of the beautiful mother of pearl work and copper work that is done in Egypt…)