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Microfinance is the provision of financial services by certain institutions known as MFI’s such as Cooperative Banks, Community Based-Saving Bank, Credit Unions, development bank to the poor, low income earners, self-employed and small businesses design to address to address issues of poverty. According to MIX in June 2010 there was more than 1800 MFI’s in over 100 countries, with 92.4 millions borrowers and 78.5 millions savers in the developing world. The concept of microfinance was created by Professor Muhammad Yunus founder of Grameen bank in Bangladesh. Microfinance includes a range of services such as microcredit, saving, insurance and funds transfer. Traditional banks do not provide facilities to low income earners; they provide services to people after assessing the profile of clients according to certain criteria such as pay, credit history and assets of the clients. According to Hernando De Soto (1989) a Peruvian economist poor people have no assets to provide as collateral to bank when taking a loan, therefore they are not liable to receive loans from banks. Since poor people do not have access to traditional banks they have to lend money with high interest rates from others sources such as pawnbroker and local money lender sometimes with 100% interest rate as borrowing from them is fast and flexible.
Over the last 30 years MFIs have developed new methods with less collateral to offer small loans to low income earners and has grown rapidly in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America where there were few bank infrastructures and where in some cases more than 80 % of the population did not have a bank account. According to CGAP (2008), MFI’s are funded by 33 donors of 21 investors such as DFI. Microfinance offers permanent financial facilities for education, health, personal emergencies, disasters, investment opportunities to the poor and it is used as a development tool. MFIs begin as non-profit organization increasingly they are now evolving as profit entities because MFIs are required to have a banking license for saving services. Some MFIs offers non-financial facilities such as health services and business development. In this review we will analyze and see how microfinance contributes to the economic development of a country and the review will be focused on creation of employment and the empowerment of women by microfinance.
2.1.1 Professor Muhammad Yunus
The concept of microfinance was created by Professor Muhammad Yunus founder of Grameen bank in Bangladesh and noble price winner in 2006.He receives 76 other awards in different countries for his work. Professor Yunus obtainded a doctorate in Economics from Vanderbilt University found in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. During the famine of 1974 in Bangladesh Professor Muhammad Yunus minor loans of USD27 to 42 poor families for them to buy and sell small articles to allow them to earn a living. The objective behind the loan was to reduce poverty in Bangladesh. Grameen bank was an idea generated by Professor Yunus the bank started as a project at the University of Chittagong as a pilot test to find different ways of providing credit to the poor in the rural area.
The Grameen bank offered its services to a village named Jobra near the university; the project was successful and had the support of Bangladesh central bank in 1979. The bank extends its services to Tangail district and to other areas of Bangladesh. In 1983 the Bangladesh Government turns the project into an independent bank and Professor Yunus had a grant from the Ford foundation to incorporate Grameen bank with the support of two bankers namely Mary Houghton and Ron Grzywinkski from Shore bank of Chicago. The Ford foundation was established in 1936 it is an independent nonprofit and nongovernmental organization which help in social change, the organization help to reduce poverty and help in human advancement worldwide by offering subsidies and loans to certain organizations.
2.2.4 Credit Union
Grameen bank is a Nobel Prize winner corporation founded in 1983, its headquarter is situated in Dhaka in Bangladesh and the bank is known for its solidarity lending system or banking and is also known as banking to the poor. Solidarity lending is the foundation of microcredit. The word Grameen is derived means “village” in Bangladesh, the bank incorporates the 16 decisions which is recited by bank borrowers and which they shall abide to them. The 16 decisions comprises the four principles of Grameen bank which are Discipline, Courage, Unity, and Hard work, and the other 15 decisions are resumed as to improve their standard of living and there is the element of togetherness to do social activities to improve their way of living. These sixteen decisions have a positive impact on the inhabitants of Bangladesh where more children have joined school. The bank has different sources of funding; initially huge capital was obtained from donor agency at low rates. During the 1990’s the bank has its bulk of capital from the Central bank of Bangladesh and recently from the sales of bonds subsidized by its government. In 1998 The bank make loan to poor people in the form of microcredit as a result of flood in Bangladesh, the repayment rate decreases but recovered afterwards, USD4.7 billions has been loaned in 2005and USD6 billion in 2008.
Nowadays the bank has expand more and offers more loans to the poor and in 2006 it has up to 2100 branches in Bangladesh. Due to Grameen’s success more than 40 countries including the United States in 2008 where 12.6% of the population live below the poverty line have been inspired by the bank to make projects with the same perspective, only Africa which has lag behind. The World Bank has financed the projects. The bank is owned by the poor borrowers of the bank of which the majority are women as the borrowers own 94% of the equity and the remaining 6% is owned by the Government of Bangladesh. The bank has grown to a large extent between 2003-2007 in 2003 the numbers of borrowers have doubled and in October 2007 the number of clients was 7.34 Million of which 97% were women and had a staff of 24703, in 2468 branches over 80257 villages that is the branches have spread in more villages since they were situated in only 43681 villages in 2003 and the repayment rate. Since the bank’s started to operate it has USD6.55 billions as loans USD87 billion has been repaid and the bank claim repayment rate of 98.35% up from the 95% of 1998 but again the Wall Street journal in 2001claim that it doubted the 95% and the accounting standard used by Grameen bank. Grameen started to diversify in the 1980 where it develops into a multi facet group with profit and nonprofit group among which are Grameen fisheries foundation for fisheries project, Grameen Agriculture Foundation for irrigation project, Grameen fund and Grameen Trust.Grameen believe that the concept of giving charity will encourage charity whereas the concept of microcredit will help poor people to exit poverty and the bank invest in children education by providing scholarships and loans for higher education.
Microfinance in developed countries
2.3.3 Theoretical study of
According to Boudreaux and Cowen (2008) microcredit is a micro magic and makes the life of the poor becomes easier, it is an alternative to traditional lending of banks. Instead of giving charity to the poor, microcredit is a human way of providing finance to poor people as according to the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, it is an investment in human capital. Microcredit is an innovation in the world of finance it forms part of microfinance, the concept did not exist before the seventies, and it is a small loan rarely exceeding USD200 and usually below USD50 made to the poor or people with low income with little or no collateral. Microcredit clients are those that are considered as near the poverty line, the loans allow micro entrepreneurs to generate an income for a better standard of living. Grameen bank based itself on three C’s namely Character that is the reliability of the people the Capacity to handle funds and the Capital which is the assets of the borrower such as savings. Microcredit is gaining more credibility in the finance industry and many large organizations are developing microfinance programs for future growth although at the start many were pessimistic about the future of microcredit in the financial system. 50% of the population in many developing countries is self employed and these loans of three months to three years with small interest rates and no collateral help poor people to become financially independent and help to reduce poverty. The microcredit programs helps people to achieve high repayment rate even sometimes more than that of traditional banking because of the system of peer support. In the case of the Grameen bank where there are solidarity groups and it is also known as social capital and is composed of 5 members and each member is responsible for each other success and repayment, but are not guarantees or liable if members default. Nevertheless the members make sure that each one is taking its responsibility to make repayment this act as a motivating factor for the members. Sometimes in real life when a member of the group defaults the other four collaborates together and contribute to pay on behalf of the defaulting member.
The microcredit system of Grameen bank is based on Trust and there is no conventional contract between the bank and the borrowers, but the borrowers must have a small account with the bank known as group fund which acts as an insurance in case of an emergency. Women account for 97% of the microcredit client of Grameen bank and this help to empower women as they get access to resources and have a say in decision making since they become micro entrepreneurs. Grameen bank has records of 98% repayment rate from women which is in contradiction with Wall street Journal which says that there is one fifth of the total loan of the bank is overdue but Grameen bank claims in turn that the standard of living of the poor has increased that is they are respecting the 16 decisions of the bank and are able to make a repayment of around 4USD per week.
Empirical review of microcredit
Grameen bank develop several program for the poor of which one of them is the struggling members program in 2003 which is different from the 5 group member borrowing it consists of distributing interest free loans to beggars in Bangladesh where the banking rules do not apply and where the repayment period is arbitrary for USD1.5 about 3.4 US cents and if they borrower default they are already covered under an insurance paid by the bank itself. This type of loan encouraged the beggars to generate an income by the sales of cheap items, there is a record shown in the microfinance summit 2006 that loans taken by beggars are about USD 833,150 and the repayment is USD 496,900 that is 59.64% repayment rate which according to me is quite encouraging since it is more half of the money loaned.
Certain developed countries such as in Canada have try to used the Grameen model but the project has failed due to certain factors such as the risk profile of clients, no taste for joint liability that is the no solidarity between the borrowers, high overhead costs therefore the project does not stand without subsidies in Canada which is contrary to the USA where microcredit has been successful. Sometimes microcredit is subjected to problem such as opportunism and asymmetric information. The first Grameen branch has made a loan of $1.5 million in the USA among which was 600 women and the repayment was very high up to 99%. People took the loan to sell items such as flowers, jewelry clothes and Grameen bank remains unshaken while others collapsed during crisis. Despite the global recession, The President Barack Obama announced the creation of $100 million funds to lend as microcredit to the western hemisphere.
Apart from microcredit the need of financial users is increasing, there is demand from 19 million potential savers to have access to micro saving services. They need services that are flexible and adapted to them. Traditionally savings is done by people at home or by normal banks at a high cost which was not encouraging to the poor. Microfinance has brought services such as savings to poor people. Savings help people to feel safer and more stable, and help poor people to manage their money conveniently. Micro saving consists of small deposits, terms and interest rate that is flexible to clients at the same time banks used the money to make loans to poor people.
In 2002 opportunity organization started to give micro insurance services. Its’ subsidiary MicroEnsure was the first institution offering micro insurance services and provide protection against many risks for the poor. Stakeholders and local insurance worked in collaboration with MicroEnsure to develop and match the needs of the poor. The insurance provided were affordable, they offered agricultural, medical, property and life policy providing a safety net in case of disasters with average premium of USD 1.5 for family with 5members. Medical policies covered even people already suffering from diseases and even those suffering from HIV viruses.
Actually MicroEnsure is offering insurance in 5 countries to over 1million poor people and was one of the runner-ups of financial times in June 5 for sustainability award and receives a grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand itself in other countries.
The first microcredit summit was held at Washington D.C. on the 24 February 1997, 137 countries were present at the summit with 2900 participants. In the summit they launch a campaign to reach 100 million poorest families that is those people living below the poverty line, with those living with less than USD1.25 a day adjusted to the purchasing power parity (based on 2005 prices) all around the world within nine years especially to empower women as micro entrepreneurs. The objective was nearly achieved in 2005 and in November 2006 the campaign re-launched to 2015 with two new objectives was ensured that 175 millions poorest families especially women are obtaining credit for self employment and for business and financial services. The second objective is to ensure that 100 millions poorest family’s worldwide increase to USD1 a day adjusted to the purchasing power parity from 1990 to 2015.
The microcredit campaign is the project of the Educational fund from the USA an organization committed to end hunger and poverty around the world. The campaign group together people such as microcredit practitioners, donor agencies, international financial institutions, non -governmental organizations, advocates, and other people involved with microcredit for effective and efficient practices. In August 2008 the World Bank claim that approximately 280 million families live below the poverty line with less than USD1.25 daily. The four core themes of the summit are reaching the poorest, empowering women, building self sufficient and sustainable MFIs, ensuring that microfinance has a positive impact on the lives of the poor
The forthcoming Microfinance Summit 2011 will be held in Valladolid, Spain, the summit is believed to improve the microfinance sector and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. A hundred countries and over 2000 participants are expected in the summit. In the agenda there will be the presentation of new products, job creation with microfinance and best practices among other issues will addressed.
It has been proved that microfinance is the tool to help poor family moved out of poverty and to contribute to the economy of a country. Studies have shown with the microcredit provided by Grameen bank in Bangladesh 48% of the families below the poverty line have exit from poverty. According to some studies with microcredit 5% of the poor could exit the poverty line each year as it is an investment in human capital and improve people’s life. Microcredit is an opportunity for the poor to realize their dreams.
Microcredit helps in the generation of employment; therefore it helps in economic development and in a sustainable means of income. With the microcredit poor people are able to earn a living by selling low priced items or to even expand their businesses at the same time they become sustainable and create employment for other people .Microfinance is a mean of creating employment and improving the life of poor people.
Women Microfinance more specifically microcredit is an instrument used for the empowerment of women it increase social welfare and enhances gender equity. Microcredit helps women to become economic actors in power. We have heard a lot about the role of women in microfinance, 94% of the borrowers of Grameen bank are women and 97% of the borrowers are owners in the equity of the bank, according to Rankin (2002) the reason behind this is because women invest more in the family than men because of their nurturing instincts and are more devoted towards their families. Women play a crucial role in the economic growth of a country by first improving their family life, their communities and countries. In the microfinance summit provisions are made for the poorest families around but especially for women as they form an important part of microfinance. Women are targeted because they are the one in the family to up bring the children and poverty of the women results in illiteracy of their children and other social problems. Mohhamud Yunus (1999) explains that women are more willing to work harder to raise their children and to move their families out of poverty, whereas when a destitute father earns an income his priorities will more around himself than for his family. In 2005 Kofi Anan promote the year as the UN microfinance year for empowerment of women. Studies have shown that women are good income earner and that women have a high repayment rate. In Nepal with the Women empowerment program 68 % of the women are able to cater for the needs of the family by sending their children to school, buying and selling properties which normally was the duty of the husband. Access to microcredit has increase from 7.6 million in 1997 to 26.8 million in 2001 among which are 21 million women the access to loans enabled them to make economic decisions , to buy assets and resources and to become more independent.
We will look at two among many microcredit stories of women the first one is that of Janet Deval from Haiti who was an illiterate women with a hearing problem she had five children, her husband refused to pay the school fees but she knew that education was important for the children. Janet sold goods in Hinche and pay for her children schools on her own. She started to take literacy classes at Fonkoze a microcredit institution in Haiti. Afterwards Janet knew how to write her name and could things that she couldn’t do before since she was never sent to school. Later she took a loan from Fonkoze to be able to expand her business at the market to be able to continue to send her children to school, without the microfinance institution Janet would have been unable to read and write and to even expand her business therefore she would have been able to educate her children.
The second case is that of Anastacia Abella from the Philippines, she lived as a squatter in Manila, she lived with her four children in a shelter made from scrap, the village have frequent blackout therefore she decided to search for jar in the garbage to make lamps, after decorating the lamps, she sell 150 of them each day and make a small profit. She took a loan at Opportunity international and she was to make 300 lamps a day, the loan allows her to make greater profit and be able to improve her standard of living.
Empirical review Social capital is an important component of microcredit it is used as a tool in development programmes. Social A study was carried out by Forbes Marshall Co .Ltd a well known company in Maharashtra, India as an initiative of CSR about the impact of social capital on social empowerment carried using primary data from 217 women all members of SHG by using random sampling.15 variables were used using Likert scale to know the perceptions of women about the microfinance programs. The conclusion of the study was that the social capital created help in women empowerment but that the organization must give appropriate support and policies to the social capital such as capacity building programmes to help decision making.
Critics of microfinance
Microfinance in Mauritius
To coordinate the activities of Grameen Foundation, we have staff based at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., at the Grameen Technology Center in Seattle, Washington and in offices in Los Angeles, Ghana and the Philippines. Overseeing the staff is a Board of Directors. Our Grameen Foundation Advisory Council and our Board Committees and Councils nurture new ideas, innovations, strategic thinking and program development. Much of Grameen Foundation’s work is done by our network of volunteers who are committed to our mission, some of whom have been working in partnership with us for more than ten years.
Alex Counts, President & CEO
Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on enabling the poor to escape poverty, using microfinance and technology. Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. Since its modest beginnings, sparked by a $6,000 seed grant provided by Grameen Bank founder (and founding Grameen Foundation board member) Professor Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Foundation has grown to a leading international humanitarian organization with an annual budget of approximately $25 million.
A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Counts has propelled Grameen Foundation’s philosophy through his writings, including Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World. Counts has also been published in The
Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Miami Herald, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Horace Mann School.
Counts chairs the Fonkoze USA board of directors and is the immediate past chair of Project Enterprise’s board. He sits on the Advisory Council of the Center for Financial Inclusion, the Advisory Board of the ThinkGlobal Arts Foundation, and he co-chairs the Microenterprise Coalition. He serves on the Board of Directors of two social businesses: Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance Ltd. and YouChange PuRong Information Advisory Co. Ltd., which promote microfinance and related efforts in the Arab World and China respectively.
Before leading Grameen Foundation, Counts served as the legislative director of RESULTS and as a regional project manager for CARE-Bangladesh. He speaks fluent Bengali and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Emily, and their cat, Seymour.
Peter Bladin, Executive Vice President, Programs and Regions
Peter Bladin is Executive Vice President of Programs and Regions at Grameen Foundation, and the Founding Director of the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. Under his leadership, the Technology Center has led the microfinance industry in driving relevant and appropriate technology innovation, creating information and communications initiatives that benefit the world’s poorest.
Peter was a founding member of the MTN-Village Phone board, the first public-private partnership to extend telecommunications access to the rural poor. He is a frequent speaker at international telecommunication and microfinance conferences, and is an Executive Board Member of the International Telecommunications Union Connect the World initiative. Peter is also actively involved with various Seattle-based non-profits, including Global Partnerships and Social Venture Partners. Before joining Grameen Foundation, Peter worked for Microsoft for more than 10 years, managing various projects and departments during his tenure. He has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
Jennifer Meehan, CEO, Asia Region
Jennifer Meehan joined Grameen Foundation in February 2005 as the founding Director of the Capital Markets Group, during which time she led the development and launch of the Growth Guarantees product. She subsequently led Grameen Foundation’s strategic planning process before taking on her current role in January 2009. She is based in Hong Kong.
Jennifer has lived in Asia – Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and China – since 1996. She started her career in the formal financial sector with Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase), but made the transition to microfinance following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Prior to joining Grameen Foundation, she worked extensively with poverty-focused MFIs throughout Asia including CASHPOR, the Asian network of Grameen Bank Replicators, on financial management, business planning and financing. She has also consulted for Calvert Social Investment Foundation, among others, and published a number of articles. She was a founding investor and, until October 2007, served on the Investment Committee of the Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital Fund.
Jennifer graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University.
Alberto Solano, CEO, Americas
Alberto Solano joined Grameen Foundation in October 2009 and provides leadership and management oversight for our portfolio and activities across the Americas. He also serves as our senior representative in the region. He has more than 10 years experience in microfinance, principally in Latin America, and most recently was the Latin America Program Director for Global Partnerships.
He previously worked with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration’s microfinance and technical assistance programs in Honduras, and ran his own consulting company specializing in sustainable development and microfinance.
Julia Soyars, General Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary
Julia Soyars joined Grameen Foundation in March 2005 and started the Grameen Foundation legal department. After working five years in energy and government contracting law and litigation at Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in Washington, Julia joined the legal department at The American National Red Cross, where she spent eleven years handling domestic and international transactions. Julia is a founding member of the Microfinance Council of Counsels and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Julia holds a JD Magna Cum Laude from Syracuse University.
Joshua Tripp, Chief Financial Officer
Joshua Tripp is Grameen Foundation’s Chief Financial Officer. Joshua joined Grameen in 2007 after spending seven years at Community Wealth Ventures (CWV), most recently as a Vice President. In his time at CWV, Joshua worked with dozens of innovative nonprofit organizations, helping them to assess, plan and launch for-profit business ventures to increase their sustainability. He became an expert in financial planning and capitalization of “social enterprises,” and was a presenter at several industry conferences and seminars. Before joining CWV, Joshua was a Project Manager for GS Telecom, a start-up satellite telecommunications company in Ghana. Prior to GS Telecom, Joshua worked in the investment banking division of Deutsche Bank, where he worked on a variety of public equity financings, private placements and merger and acquisition transactions in the technology industry. Joshua has a BA in Economics from Williams College and an MBA from the George Washington University School of Business.
Sandra Adams, Vice President, External Affairs
Sandra Adams brings three decades of nonprofit development, communications and event marketing experience to Grameen Foundation. Throughout her career her focus has been on improving the status of women in positions with the AAUW Educational Foundation, American Nurses Association, and National Breast Cancer Coalition and on environmental advocacy through her work with the National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society. An avid student and proponent of philanthropy, she was elected Chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals national board of directors, served as President of their Washington, DC chapter and is one of only 150 people to have achieved the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive credential. She was named Washington’s Outstanding Fund Raising Executive of the Year in 1994. Sandra has served on the boards of EarthShare and CFRE International. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst College, a Master’s from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Georgetown University.
Camilla Nestor, Vice President of Microfinance Programs
Camilla Nestor joined Grameen Foundation in August 2005 and previously served as Growth Guarantees Manager and Director of the Capital Management and Advisory Center. She was appointed Vice President for Microfinance in April 2009. She has 14 years of experience in microfinance and commercial banking. Before joining Grameen Foundation, she worked in Citigroup’s Structured Corporate Finance Department where she executed credit-enhanced debt financings for emerging markets firms in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining Citi, she spent five years on the ground in Southeast Asia, the Balkans, and Africa working with microfinance institutions on start-up, new product development, and capital raising. Camilla holds an MBA and a masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Colorado College. She speaks Bahasa Indonesia and is conversant in French.
David Edelstein, Vice President of Technology Programs, and Director of the Grameen Foundation Technology Center
David Edelstein is Director of the Grameen Foundation Technology Center and Vice President of Technology Programs at Grameen Foundation. As the leader of Grameen Foundation’s work in technology, he guides programs that create innovative and sustainable approaches to employing technology for the benefit of the world’s poor. This includes efforts to develop services that can be accessed on widely available mobile phones, in domains such as health and agriculture, to improve lives and livelihoods. It also encompasses efforts in technology for microfinance, including an open-source software initiative designed to accelerate the growth of microfinance institutions (Mifos) and efforts to enable the poor to transfer funds using mobile phones.
Before joining Grameen Foundation, David spent three years at Microsoft, designing busine
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