How to make a friend in Uganda. business consultant, NGO worker, former Peace Corps volunteer, activist: searching for sustainable solutions to eradicate extreme poverty

February 4, 2009

Crisis creates opportunity for structural change

Last night, at a Harvard Bookstore event, Muhammad Yunus said that the world banking system should be altered to look more like his micro finance institution, Grameen Bank. Since he sees poverty as a systemic issue related to access to credit, only a change in the world-wide banking system can make poverty history. With much hubris he spoke of how even his US experiment in Jackson Heights, NY has a better payback rate than the larger banks under whose shadow the 500 borrowers work and live. There seems to be a disconnect for me, though. Micro-credit currently needs high-touch customer service to gain the incredibly high repayment rates it enjoys. Sure groups like Accion are pushing for reform, but that will just make MFIs operate more like banks, not the reverse. Can these large banks that have grown more efficient by automating so many of their services really convert to a high-touch model that requires a relationship with customers to succeed? I still need to be convinced.

Powered by WordPress