Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Microfinance Q&A in The Guardian

A somewhat insulting Q&A on microfinance has been published in The Guardian. Here are some samples:
Why is Barclays interested in people with virtually no cash?
It isn't. That's why Care International is involved: it has the expertise to work with the poorest villagers. Barclays is interested in developing financial services for the next level up, where people might want to borrow to invest, and need a secure place to make deposits. ...

What is the point of people with almost no income getting into debt?
At the most basic level, sometimes even the poorest have to borrow a little in order to meet an unexpected financial demand such as a health bill.
If Barclays has no interest in "people with virtually no cash", they do not have to get involved in microfinance. Other people who are interested in the well-being of poor people with no cash are more than happy to do so. Barclays and several other banks are jumping into the microfinance bandwagon because they know they can make profits.

As to why people with almost no income are getting into debt, it is because by borrowing, they can generate income. This may sound a bit strange to Anne Perkins who wrote the Q&A. But people borrow micro loans not just for consumption, but mostly to generate income.

If we demanded that only people with income should get loans, then microfinance would not have survived.

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