Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taking issue with micro-lending

Another of my controversial essays has been published on Brave New Traveler and is stirring up quite a discussion.

It looks at the concept of micro-lending, which has become a kind of fad in development circles in recent years. The basic idea is to give small loans to people in the "developing" world to encourage them as entrepreneurs.

It sounds nice, and like I say it's a popular thing to talk about today. But the evidence is not so clear about the benefits of micro-lending. Globalization critic Helena Norberg-Hodge of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, for instance, has remarked that on the whole, micro-loans have not been effective for alleviating poverty; rather they have encouraged more migration from the country to the cities (which is to say the slums).

Have a look at my essay, which the BNT editors have entitled Hand-up or Handout? The Case Against Micro-loans and register your comments in the burgeoning discussion.


Anonymous said...

Read your article and the comments. You have some good reasons for not liking the loans, esp. considering what Cedric said about them. If the loans could be properly administered then, in some situations, they would be helpful. As an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, self-reliance.

Josh said...

Hey everybody...if my mom gets it, why can't the World Bank?

My mom is smarter than the World Bank. Not sure if I should feel happy about that or what...worried? Huh?

If y'all knew my mom you'd know that she could tear the WB a new asshole. Maybe we should take up a collection to send her to Washington. We'll get somebody to tape a sign on the front of the WB building that says "Start Ass-Whuppin Here" and turn her loose.

Sound like a plan?