Social Edge: Microfinance: An Economic Development Failure?
Microfinance doesn’t clear land mines, save rain forests or stop global warming.
... Today, many armchair economic development experts, trained economists and sideline pundits have started to wonder why microfinance is not the next Industrial Revolution.
Since I usually agree with myself, I quote here from my speech to a domestic micro-enterprise conference: “Microfinance is about more than money. None of us in this room would accept living in a community with bad schools, little healthcare, no electricity, and filthy water – but with a great bank. Economic justice means the poor must have the power to speak up, speak out and speak for themselves.”
For a seriously impoverished woman, empowerment is pretty simple. A little bling and, all of sudden, she is empowered to feed her kids, stand up to an abusive partner, thatch a roof or pay a medical bill. Ask any woman what financial independence means.
The hoi polloi of funders, metric mavens, think tanks and policy wonks need to explain microfinance as quantifiable economic development because that is THEIR obsession with spread sheets and snazzy graphics. At the one-dollar-a-day subsistence level, microfinance is about giving a woman a choice and a chance, no more and no less. ...