OPINION: Microfinance has a part to play in fighting terrorism
Monday, August 31, 2015
A couple of weeks ago I visited our FINCA project and its clients in Nicaragua. Traveling with me was Matthew Glynn, a fine UK journalist from The Independent. We met with a number of clients who had started and grown businesses with the help of FINCA microloans.
On his return, Matthew wrote a feature piece for the Independent and a shorter piece for the London Evening Standard. In the Independent he quoted me giving my views on the role of microfinance in tackling terrorism:
“I heard someone say the other day, ‘Let’s be clear, we’re not going to fight terrorism by helping poor people with microfinance’. Well, guess what, we are, and it’s the only way we’re going to do it.
“We ignore at our peril the social ills of countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan where there is high youth unemployment and people may give their kids to a madrassa and a radical imam otherwise they might starve to death. … So how can we combat that? We have to give the family an alternative, maybe an opportunity to access microfinance – the ability to start and run their own business.
“It’s not going to be the only solution… but business, done in a responsible way and done as a social enterprise, is the solution to many of the major ills in the world, including poverty and terrorism.”
This is an accurate quote and I stand by it. I’d also like to take this opportunity to add that this is a truth that stands for any country: young people and parents must have economic opportunity or the risk of social unrest rises. In its extreme, unrest can spill into terrorism when the plight of the hopeless is used by those who would purposely do harm to others.