Current Issues: The Growing Popularity of Microfinance

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The Growing Popularity of Microfinance

The popularity of microfinance programs, which allow women in developing nations to take out tiny sums of money to start their own small enterprises, has grown exponentially in recent years. But can a $20 loan really make a difference where countless multi-million dollar development projects, international policies, and foreign aid programs have failed?

I'm conflicted

Microfinance is all the rage right now in Western philanthropy, but I can't help feeling a little conflicted. While I completely understand that microfinance helps to undo some of the effects of women's systematic denial to loans and capital, I don't feel exactly comfortable with people profiting off of women's poverty. I don't know that a loan will both lift a woman out of poverty and change the economic structures that got her there in the first place. It might do the former, but not the latter. How do we change the systems that oppress women and transgendered people as a collective and not just make it an individual issue?

I also recognize my critique is from a very privileged place. I am typically on the lender's side of the microfinance equation. I'd love to hear from women who have received loans. What do you think?

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