Evaluating Microfinance

Post date: Sep 08, 2010 6:50:7 PM

Since the 1980s, millions of impoverished people around the world without access to banks have been able to take out tiny loans to start businesses. Nobel Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus, who established the first microfinance bank in Bangladesh and launched the modern microlending movement, claims microloans have lifted millions -- especially women -- out of poverty and spurred economic growth. But recent studies cast doubt on microcredit's effectiveness. Borrowers have been saddled with multiple loans at exorbitant interest rates, often having to borrow from loan sharks to make their microcredit payments. Economists fear overindebtedness could make borrowers even poorer and that a possible credit bubble could burst. Others worry that in recent years, for-profit investors have swarmed to the field, attracted by high returns on investment. Some governments have capped microlenders' interest rates, but the industry hopes to forestall regulation by adopting voluntary consumer protection measures.CQ Global Researcher Evaluating Microfinance v.4-4