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Modern microcredit is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank founded in Bangladesh in 1983. However, a skeptical approach is advisable when assessing the effectiveness of microcredit. Critics argue that microcredit has not had a positive impact on gender relationships, does not alleviate poverty, has led many borrowers into a debt trap and constitutes a “privatization of welfare”. Ideas relating to microcredit can be found at various times in modern history, such as the Starr-Bowkett Society. Jonathan Swift inspired the Irish Loan Funds of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, which is generally considered the first modern microcredit institution. The origins of microcredit in its current practical incarnation can be linked to several organizations founded in Bangladesh, especially the Grameen Bank. The Grameen Bank, which is generally considered the first modern microcredit institution, was founded in 1983 by Muhammad Yunus. Microcredit organizations were initially created as alternatives to the “loan-sharks” known to take advantage of clients. Indeed, many microlenders began as non-profit organizations and operated with government funds or private subsidies.
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Many microcredit organizations now function as independent banks. This has led to their charging higher interest rates on loans and placing more emphasis on savings programs. Notably, Unit Desa has charged in excess of 20 percent on small business loans. Even so, the numbers indicate that ethical microlending and investor profit can go hand-in-hand. Though lending to groups has long been a key part of microcredit, microcredit initially began with the principle of lending to individuals. Mumbai Headquarters of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development of India, which on-lends funds to banks providing microcredit. Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is the oldest and probably best-known microfinance institution in the world.
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Grameen Bank launched their US operations in New York in April 2008. 7 million in grants to nonprofits to use in backing microloan programs. 50,000 to people — mostly entrepreneurs — who cannot, for various reasons, borrow from a bank. Most nonprofit microlenders include services like financial literacy training and business plan consultations, which contribute to the expense of providing such loans but also, those groups say, to the success of their borrowers.
The principles of microcredit have also been applied in attempting to address several non-poverty-related issues. Among these, multiple Internet-based organizations have developed platforms that facilitate a modified form of peer-to-peer lending where a loan is not made in the form of a single, direct loan, but as the aggregation of a number of smaller loans—often at a negligible interest rate. Examples of platforms that connect lenders to micro-entrepreneurs via Internet are Kiva, Zidisha, and the Microloan Foundation. The impact of microcredit is a subject of much controversy. Proponents state that it reduces poverty through higher employment and higher incomes.
This is expected to lead to improved nutrition and improved education of the borrowers’ children. Some argue that microcredit empowers women. In the US, UK and Canada, it is argued that microcredit helps recipients to graduate from welfare programs. Critics say that microcredit has not increased incomes, but has driven poor households into a debt trap, in some cases even leading to suicide. They add that the money from loans is often used for durable consumer goods or consumption instead of being used for productive investments, that it fails to empower women, and that it has not improved health or education.
The available evidence indicates that in many cases microcredit has facilitated the creation and the growth of businesses. It has often generated self-employment, but it has not necessarily increased incomes after interest payments. In some cases it has driven borrowers into debt traps. There is no evidence that microcredit has empowered women.
Unintended consequences of microfinance include informal intermediaton: That is, some entrepreneurial borrowers become informal intermediaries between microfinance initiatives and poorer micro-entrepreneurs. Those who more easily qualify for microfinance split loans into smaller credit to even poorer borrowers. Many microfinance institutions also offer savings facilities, such as Banco Palma in Brazil shown here. One of the principal challenges of microcredit is providing small loans at an affordable cost. The reason for the high interest rates is not primarily cost of capital. Professor Dean Karlan from Yale University advocates also giving the poor access to savings accounts.
Kiva Is Not Quite What It Seems”. What We Do – Grameen Foundation – Connecting the World’s Poor to Their Potential”. Jason Cons and Kasia Paprocki of the Goldin Institute, “The Limits of Microcredit—A Bangladeshi Case” Archived 2012-01-16 at the Wayback Machine. The 34 billion dollar question: Is microfinance the answer to poverty?
Poverty: Its illegal causes and legal cure”. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Bank of America Issues Grants for Microloans”. Calmeadow Metrofund: A Canadian Experiment in Sustainable Microfinance”, Calmeadow Foundation, April 2001. Israel Free Loan Associantion, History of IFLA, “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04.