world poverty

This is a guest Humanosphere post from Kunle Oguneye, president of the Seattle chapter of The African Network, a Nigerian and former tech worker who now writes children’s books (which should, I hope, explain the photo).

Oguneye wrote me to suggest that Humanosphere tends to suffer from the same bias, or lack of diversity and perspective, that afflicts much of the local global health and development community.

Here’s what he says:

TW Collins / Flickr

The popular anti-poverty scheme of providing small loans and other financial services to poor people, generally known as microfinance, is in crisis.

“In one sense, you could say it’s a coming of age,” says Alex Counts, CEO at the Grameen Foundation, a leading non-profit microfinance organization with offices in Seattle and Washington D.C.. “Controversy often comes along with growing in size and impact.”

You could also say microfinance is actually suffering from several different crises: An external appearance of a crisis based on a damaged public image; a related, but slightly different, internal “identity crisis” and, at least according to one leading observer, a cash crisis in reverse — too much money.

Here are five reasons for the crisis:

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 It's described as the largest philanthropic gift ever made aimed at helping the poor  save money and provide access to financial services. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $500 million pledge was announced at a Seattle gathering attended by finance and banking leaders representing 38 nations.