- Here's a microfinance blog newly added to our blogroll (on the left, scroll down): Micro Capital: The Candid Voice for Microfinance Investment. The blog is basically a clearinghouse for other info sources.
- The Daily Star in Bangladesh reports that a new women entrepreneur's fund received only one application last year because no one knew about it.
“We need money badly,” Nahida Sharmin, owner of Shailpik, a Dhaka-based fashion and design house struggling to survive, told The Daily Star.
Frustrated Sharmin, who went to several banks for years for loans, said an instalment would cost Tk 27,000 if one borrows Tk 10 lakh from a bank. Moreover, the banks seek collateral, which she said remains 'a perpetual problem'.
“But nobody told us about the BB fund for women entrepreneurs,” Sharmin said.
- An opinion piece by Baik Ju-wang in The Korea Times lays out a few issues with microcredit programs in South Korea.
People often describe our history as a history of war: a war among people;a war against Mother Nature; a war against many. One of the most tragic legacies from these wars is the poverty and associated tragedy they have brought with and them for history. ... In Korean society, witnessing Grameen Bank's success, the microcredit lending has been an eye-catching social business for poverty reduction. Not only the private sector but also the government sector has shown its interest ...
However, there are also several concerns around these movements. Firstly, they point out that it will be difficult to apply a developing country case like Bangladesh to a developed country like Korea. From my study, I also found there are several important hidden agenda in the Grameen Bank's success that supported the microfinance industry, which the other countries might not have.
- The saintly Mohammed Yunus published an article in the Christian Science Monitor last week titled "How Social Business Can Create a World Without Poverty."
Traditional philanthropy and nonprofits generate a social gain, but they do not design their programs as self-sustaining business models. A charitable dollar can be used only once. A dollar invested in a self-sustaining social business is recycled endlessly.
A social business is designed to be both self-sustaining and to maximize social returns like patients treated, houses built, or health insurance extended to people who never had this coverage. An investor in a social business retains an ownership interest to hold management accountable and to get the investment back over time, but no dividends are expected, and any profits should be reinvested in the business or used to start new similar businesses.
- The International Fund for Agricultural Development is launching a new program to offer better access to financial services, markets, technology, and information to mostly women-headed impoverished households in Inner Mongolia with limited access to microcredit.
The six-year project will promote greenhouse and organic crop production with links to markets and buyers, and it will also establish village development funds to pay for infrastructure and activities selected by local communities
- And finally, microfinance is so hip these days, that Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour has started an MFI named Birima, and is promoting it together with multi-culti-image-making Italian clothing company Benetton. The campaign's slogan will be "Africa Works," and, yes, the website features Benetton-esque photos of the program's clients in colorful togs, against white backdrops. No information on whether they are wearing Benetton clothes.