Making Microfinance More Effective

Harvard Business Review

The Grameen model of microfinance gained a great deal of attention in the international development field after early data showed that it was associated with high repayment and low default. For example, digital platforms can be configured to improve the customer experience by offering sub-accounts or labeling accounts, and they can provide bank managers with real-time information and other decision aids that can help banks provide better service to clients. For the 2.5

Innovating The Brick-and-Mortar Injustice Infrastructure

Mills Scofield

This week''s post is by Andy Posner , Co-Founder & Executive Director of Capital Good Fund ( CGF ), a non-profit microfinance organization targeting the root causes of poverty through innovative micro-loans and personal financial coaching.

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I'm a bank - well, with the help of Kiva.org!

Jason Womack

That's right, I found out how to be my own bank! Intercontinental Ballistic Microfinance from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo. What happens when 620,000 lenders fund 615,000 entrepreneurs, students, and other microfinance borrowers around the world?

Under Fire, Microfinance Faces Falling Out of Favor

Harvard Business Review

Microfinance has come under fire in the past 18 months, triggered in part by SKS Microfinance's IPO. Critics complain that the institutions supporting microfinance have become too greedy, and many are using this as an argument to deeply regulate or, even more, cut support to microfinance operations. Dr. Muhammad Yunus introduced the concept of microfinance in 1983; in 2006, he won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering efforts. Such is the power of microfinance.

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The Microfinance Contagion Scenario

Harvard Business Review

So far, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) microfinance crisis has largely been viewed as a local issue, with relatively little impact beyond AP or India's borders. Other microfinance crises, in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Bosnia, have not spread beyond the borders of a particular country. A number of MFIs announced an agreement to reschedule their loans to Indian banks last week (indicating the severity of the crisis the MFIs rescheduled more than 80% of their outstanding debt).

Banking on Women and Girls: Key to Global Poverty Alleviation

Harvard Business Review

On this 100th International Women's Day , it is right to reflect on how women have become the heart of the microfinance industry. It is easy to forget that the initial motivation for microfinance roughly 30 years ago was, to a great extent, gender neutral. The pioneering microfinance institutions sought to provide credit to poor entrepreneurs who had no assets to pledge as collateral and, consequently, were denied access to capital by the formal banking sector.

The Innovation Mindset in Action: Shantha Ragunathan

Harvard Business Review

Sasikala, a Block Development Officer (BDO), talked to the Kodapattinam villagers about microfinance , only Shantha, of all the villagers, saw the opportunity and took action. To participate in a microfinance campaign, the village had to form a Self Help Group (SHG) of about 20 people, with each member contributing a certain amount of money every month. The bank (in this case Indian Bank ) would then loan a matching amount, bringing the available funds to $400.

An Approach to Ending Poverty That Works

Harvard Business Review

Microfinance and other market-based interventions don’t generally reach them. Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the BHAG – the big, hairy audacious goal – of our generation.

Lessons for Social Entrepreneurs from the Microfinance Crisis

Harvard Business Review

The microfinance industry has in just a few years gone from making headlines for the Nobel Peace Prize to stories about limited impact, allegedly abusive tactics, client suicides, government crackdowns, major lenders struggling with insolvency and the forcible removal of Mohammed Yunus as Managing Director of Grameen Bank. But we shouldn't ignore how the microfinance industry made itself vulnerable to attacks with a political motive.

Entrepreneurship Needs to Be a Bigger Part of U.S. Foreign Aid

Harvard Business Review

These colossal “beltway bandits” work everywhere from Afghanistan to Zambia and purport to offer expertise in everything from microfinance to micro-irrigation. Here are two surprising facts. First, the average American estimates that over 25% of the U.S.

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Harvard Business Review

sanitation, housing, mobile banking). Whether it’s solar lighting, mobile authentication, micro-insurance, mobile banking, drinking water, urban sanitation, low-income housing or primary health care, entrepreneurs need time to test, modify, and refine business models.

How Social Entrepreneurs Can Have the Most Impact

Harvard Business Review

That year, two global headlines raised the profile of social enterprise: Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace prize. Or consider Kwabena Darko of Ghana, who helped found that country’s microfinance sector by forging a collaboration between global NGO Opportunity International , his national startup Sinapi Aba , and a myriad of village- and town-based trust groups. Social enterprise in the U.S. is a fast-growing, but fragmented, movement.

Using Games to Get a Handle on Bank Risk

Harvard Business Review

Bank marketing materials focus on the dreams, anxieties and goals of consumers. Most audits and regulations of banks are focused on certifying the integrity of data and controls. The truly critical issue, though, is the integrity of banks' assumptions about consumer behavior. A better understanding of the drivers of behavior is needed for both banks and consumers to understand risk, and for the financial system to provide timely and targeted interventions.

Businesses Serving the Poor Need to Get Over Their Unease About Profit

Harvard Business Review

The microfinance industry is a rare D and E success story. Microfinance banks, which provide desperately needed loans to low-income consumers, draw mainstream investors because of their attractive returns. Compare that to the 7%-10% NIM that is the norm for traditional banks serving wealthier consumers. Mexico-based Compartamos , a microfinance bank that sold 35% of the company for $450 million in 2007, generates a NIM of around 60%.

Global Entrepreneurs Need New Funding Models

Harvard Business Review

In low-income countries, according to World Bank data in a recent paper by the consultancy Dalberg, 43% of businesses with between 20 and 99 employees say that access to finance is a major constraint. Standing before a brown swathe of land cut up into rectangular ditches for a World Bank-funded project just outside Liberia's capital city of Monrovia, George Howard is a beneficiary of one such innovation.

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. Most companies trying to do business with the 4 billion people who make up the world's poor follow a formula long touted by bottom-of-the-pyramid experts: Offer products at extremely low prices and margins, and hope to generate decent profits by selling enormous quantities of them.