Microcredit: Does it Help The Poor? (From Bangladesh to the United States

January 30, 1997

Journalist David Bornstein, author of The Price of a Dream; The Story of the Grameen Bank, and Geena Neff, author of Microcredit, Microresults in the Left Business Observer, debate the merits of microcredit. Bornstein says microcredit – the lending of small amounts of money to poor women in the third world – is a response to the fact that large infrastructure aid projects fail to get money into the hands of very poor people, particularly women. Bornstein thinks microcredit has led to the quality of life being improved for many people living in poverty throughout the world, and says that says it is not imposed on them, but is responding to their needs. Geena Neff disagrees, citing studies showing that many poor women are losing control of their loans and that women often have higher repayment rates, so issues of who has control and power are not being addressed by microcredit. She questions the Grameen bank’s involvement with microcredit and the fact that 90% of their employees are male, and also cautions that the recent Microcredit Summit was sponsored by Monsanto and Citicorp.

David Bornstein

Geena Neff