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Tag: Microfinance

Scouting New Territory II

Scouting New Territory II

The other day I talked about how an MFI figures out the potential market for their services in an area.  A simple calculation using statistics provided by the government offers a high-level estimate of the number of women in the target profile.  But it is also important to understand the situation on the ground – who is there already and what are they doing?  On a recent market research trip with some NWTF staff, I learned how to get the…

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Scouting New Territory I

Scouting New Territory I

One misconception about microfinance institutions is that, because they are NGOs with a core social mission, they do not compete in the same way as traditional for-profit companies.  This is, of course, not the case.  Just like any other business, MFIs must strive to offer the best product, best service, and, ideally, serve communities with a sizable demand for microfinance.  This gives you a competitive edge over other MFIs in the area.  When considering expansion, an MFI needs to consider…

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Mass Weddings for the Poor

Mass Weddings for the Poor

The following was written for the Kiva Fellows blog.  Read the original here. This job is unique, in that it offers an endless supply of intellectual satisfaction.  Every day, I learn something new about something interesting.  For the time being, what interests me most is microfinance.  My knowledge of microfinance prior to Kiva could be described as purely academic.  Experiencing it firsthand has been rewarding.  In particular, I like understanding the details of execution, the challenges faced by the institution,…

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Community Loans: Part II

Community Loans: Part II

The following was written for the Kiva Fellows blog.  See the original here. I spent all last week touring a province in the Philippines with a 7-person team in an effort to gather market intelligence about the region.  The purpose is to determine whether or not NWTF should open a branch here.  Much of our day is spent driving around a town (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) looking for the poorest neighborhoods.  The Dilapidated Housing Index…

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Community Loans: Part I

Community Loans: Part I

Microfinance is a term to describe the broad umbrella of financial services to people without access to a traditional banking system.  Microfinance institutions (MFIs) provide these types of services, which include microcredit, insurance (health, life, crop), savings accounts, remittances, and others.  Most MFIs rely on social collateral for repayment, which, in turn, is dependent on the strength of the community.  The community is at the center of the mission of microfinance, and some of the most interesting services offered by…

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Another Approach: Investing in SMEs

Another Approach: Investing in SMEs

This is the first in a three-part series about small- and medium-sized enterprises In March of 2008, James Surowiecki wrote an article for the New Yorker, titled “What Microloans Miss,” that suggests that the disproportionate amount of attention given to microfinance has steered funding away from other avenues for development.  A year and a half later, the Boston Globe included a piece on two recent studies on microfinance questioning its efficacy,  titled “Small Change.” Both articles revolve around the same…

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"The Women of Microfinance"

"The Women of Microfinance"

In my directorial debut, I’ve created a short film about three women with different roles in the microfinance community.  All are part of the same system, and all are working toward their goals in their own way.   Hope you enjoy. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlJBK7FMcwg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Who is Poor? Defining Poverty

Who is Poor? Defining Poverty

This was written for the Kiva Fellows blog.  Read the original here. How do you define poverty?   A basic needs index looks at whether (and to what extent) fundamental needs are fulfilled – food, water, shelter, clothing – and whether people have access to critical services – education, information (newspapers, etc.), sanitation facilities, healthcare, financial services.  This is an absolute poverty calculation, which uses a standard threshold that can be compared across countries and continents.  Another method is to use…

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25 Years and Counting

25 Years and Counting

In August of this year, Negros Women For Tomorrow celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The organization commemorated the occasion with an extravagant party titled “Handum” (Dream) with 6,000 attendees, including staff, borrowers, partners, and a pre-recorded message from the godfather of microfinance himself, Muhammad Yunus.  Yunus catapulted microfinance into the mainstream in 2005 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  Naturally, most people (including myself until a few months ago) think that it…

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Yunus v. Compartamos

Yunus v. Compartamos

The following is an article I wrote for The Inductive. Within the international development community, a debate for the heart of the movement recently came to the fore with the IPO of Compartamos, the largest microfinance institution in Mexico.  Divisive and controversial, Compartamos’ decision to sell shares and publicly list on an exchange is perhaps the clearest manifestation of where the two sides diverge.  One side, led by Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the Nobel…

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