Microfinance Works – For the Rich

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

VALLADOLID, Spain, Nov 18 (IPS) – Jesús Guerra, a volunteer at this week’s Fifth Global Microcredit Summit in this Spanish town, was nonplussed by the expensive gold watch sported by a banker from a developing country.

“When I volunteered to help at the Summit I thought this was different,” Guerra told IPS. “I believed that everybody who worked in microfinance wanted to end social injustices, but here I am listening to a lot of people saying that the goal is to make profits.”

Another volunteer, Susana Balet, was impressed by the dedication of some people working in microcredit. She indicated to IPS a presentation made by Ingrid Munro where the focus stayed on the reality of poverty and the importance of alleviating it.

Munro, who founded in 1999 the Jamii Bora Group, a Nairobi-based microfinance organisation, firmly believes that any family, no matter how hopelessly poor, is capable of emerging out of poverty.

“Human development does not work without people listening to each other, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Pilar Vereda, in-charge of Institutional Relations of the Fundación Iberomericana de Desarrollo (the Iberoamerican Foundation of Development).

But such a dialogue between the providers and recipients of microcredit was missing even at the Nov. 14-17 Summit with the poor figuring largely in presentations and videos.

“The people at the bottom of the pyramid have not had their own voice at this Summit although the Spanish platform of non-government organisations had proposed better participation by cooperatives or other beneficiaries of microfinance,” Vereda said.

“Finally, their voices were represented through the videos that we produced and broadcast at the Summit,” she said.

Muhammad Yunus, founder of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, told IPS that a small group of borrowers is participating in the Summit and has even managed to participate in different events.

Source: International.to (link opens in a new window)