Microfinance as a credit card?
Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, the most prestigious of a string of awards celebrating his role in creating banks for the poor. If there was a Nobel for marketing, he could have won that, too. That’s not meant as a jab but as recognition of Yunus’s rhetorical flair. Yunus not only founded a financial institution that serves the poor in Bangladesh (Grameen Bank, the 2006 Nobel co-winner), he also crafted a global vision for funding entrepreneurs and tirelessly promoted it for three decades.
But today Yunus’s vision — and the assumptions it rests on — is coming apart. Microfinance has proved fairly robust as a banking idea but not as an anti-poverty intervention.