At the recent Root 'n' Fruit Unconference
, a number of proto-Yunus
-types were keen to see market capital made available to advance the social missions of local social enterprises.
So, I'm pretty confident they were happy with the Nobel
committee selection for the Peace Prize. But c'mon ... Peace? Why not economics?
On that subject ... here are a few items that didn't meet the dealine for our newsletter. Enjoy and share ...
* Microcredit, Macro Issues is a commentary written by Walden Bello for The Nation. Here's a snippet ...
In other words, microcredit is a great tool as a survival strategy, but it is not the key to development, which involves not only massive capital-intensive, state-directed investments to build industries but also an assault on the structures of inequality such as concentrated land ownership that systematically deprive the poor of resources to escape poverty. Microcredit schemes end up coexisting with these entrenched structures, serving as a safety net for people excluded and marginalized by them, but not transforming them. No, Paul Wolfowitz, microcredit is not the key to ending poverty among the 75 million people in Andhra Pradesh. Dream on.
Perhaps one of the reasons there is such enthusiasm for microcredit in establishment circles these days is that it is a market-based mechanism that has enjoyed some success where other market-based programs have crashed. Structural-adjustment programs promoting trade liberalization, deregulation and privatization have brought greater poverty and inequality to most parts of the developing world over the last quarter century, and have made economic stagnation a permanent condition. Many of the same institutions that pushed and are continuing to push these failed macro programs (sometimes under new labels like "Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers"), like the World Bank, are often the same institutions pushing microcredit programs. Viewed broadly, microcredit can be seen as the safety net for millions of people destabilized by the large-scale macro-failures engendered by structural adjustment.
[With thanks to Audeamus.]
* Millions For Millions, is by Connie Bruck for The New Yorker. Here's a snippet ...
Yunus is a mesmerizing salesman. In the eighties and early nineties, the Grameen Bank received close to a hundred and fifty million dollars in soft loans and grants; today, funded by savings deposits from borrowers and others, it essentially supports itself. It has disbursed more than $5.3 billion to nearly seven million borrowers who have no collateral; ninety-six per cent of them are groups of women, who meet once a week and, through incentives, help to insure their individual loan repayments. (Traditionally, Third World banks lend only to men. Yunus says that he developed the policy of lending mainly to women not only because they were more responsible about re-paying the loans but because families benefitted more when the women controlled the money.) To cover the high cost of servicing these small loans, borrowers pay interest rates of up to twenty per cent, and Grameen claims that it recovers ninety-eight per cent of the loans. Some of Grameen’s numbers have been challenged, but no one disputes Yunus’s assertion that, contrary to traditional banking doctrine, the poor can be reliable borrowers, even at high rates of interest. These days, Yunus raises money for the Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit group that supports microcredit institutions around the world. Many are related to the Grameen Bank, but only loosely; Yunus believes in locally designed, run, and controlled institutions.
[With thanks to Polya at Fast Company.]
Labels: Fast Company, Grameen, MicroFinance, MircoCredit, Yunus