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Learning from Microfinance's Woes

Harvard Business Review

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture about microfinance, and got sucker-punched. Expecting to hear a litany of pros and cons about the business, and an exploration of good and bad models, I was instead greeted with a knockout punch: Microfinance doesn't work, at least not in the way we think it does. Nonprofit microfinance ANDE

Guest Post: An Entrepreneur's Thoughts on Market Incentives & Foreign Aid

Mills Scofield

by Chia Han Sheng on Sunday, August 19, 2012. This is a guest blog by Chia Han Sheng, Brown University '14, co-founder of MedInternational.

What is the best way to make a difference in the world?


My solution was to found a microfinance organization that puts women in a position to create their own destinies and achieve their full potential.

How Large NGOs Are Using Data to Transform Themselves

Harvard Business Review

A critical part was adapting a proven model in a related field: microfinance. Frontline Data as Wake Up Call. Using Models Proven Elsewhere.

Microfinance Is Good for Women, but It's Only Part of the Solution

Harvard Business Review

Career paths are not one-size-fits-all, yet in emerging markets, it's often assumed that microfinance — the use of small loans to foster self-reliant small businesses in a community setting — is the only path for women seeking economic opportunity. Microfinance was one issue that we considered.

The Smart Way to Make Profits While Serving the Poor

Harvard Business Review

Grameen Bank, the microfinance bank in Bangladesh, is well known for its use of peer groups: Self-formed clubs of five to 10 people, usually women, share responsibility for microloans. Any business that starts off needing a 30% or higher penetration rate is built on a shaky foundation. At the bottom of the pyramid, it's a losing proposition.

Global Entrepreneurs Need New Funding Models

Harvard Business Review

We wanted to do this because we recognize that small enterprises are a very significant engine for development; they create employment, which tends to be more sustainable and better paid than you would find in the more informal microfinance sector," says Oxfam's Nicholas Colloff. Johnson Foundation contributing $3 million to the facility.

It Takes a Village to Raise an Entrepreneur

Harvard Business Review

Commercial microfinance organizations are perhaps the best-known hybrid organizations, but social entrepreneurs now use hybrid models to address a diverse set of social issues that includes hunger, healthcare, economic development, environment, education, housing, culture, law, and politics. Social enterprise

Funders Can Give More than Money

Harvard Business Review

In 2012 the world's problems grew more complex, but America's top 400 charities saw very little growth in their resources to address them. Six years ago, David and Donna Allman approached Opportunity with an idea that fell outside our traditional microfinance model: to build a Community Economic Development (CED) program in Nicaragua.