Tag Archives | poverty

The Rise of Mobile Phone Banking

by Jay Milbrandt

The mobile phone can be found everywhere, even the most unlikely of places: Salanga, rural Bangladesh.

The mobile phone is becoming the new bank for the poor. Recent leaps in mobile technology are providing the first access to financial services that many people throughout the world have had. Originally introduced into many developing countries as a small microenterprise opportunity, e.g. the Grameen “phone lady,” the mobile phone has become ubiquitous and nearly an essential for daily life.

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New Policy in Nigeria Will Cut Microfinance Institutions: Good or Bad?

On January 1, Nigeria joined the ranks of developing nations adopting laws and policies to regulate the microfinance sector. Under the new Microfinance Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, community banks and microfinance institutions must increase their capital base from 5 NGN (approximately $42,000 USD) to 20 NGN (approximately $169,000 USD). The purpose of the policy is to “create micro-finance banks that are financially sound, stable, self-sustaining and integral to their communities with potential to attract more resources and expand services to their customers.” In the process, 145 microfinance institutions and community banks may lose their licenses.

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Microfinance Grows Despite Economic Downturns

Despite global economic downturns, the poor remain highly bankable. Citigroup, a leader in microfinance amongst many global banks, announced that the microfinance field appears “largely immune from the global credit liquidity problems following the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

In previous economic crises, the microfinance remained sector remained strong. Bob Annible, global director of Citigroup’s microfinance operations noted that, “When Indonesia had its financial crisis in the 1990s, the microfinance sector did not experience it as strongly as the formal sector.”

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Borrower Story: Meera from Bangladesh

by Jay Milbrandt

Meera with her two daughters on right and left.
Photo: (c) Jay Milbrandt collection.

The shear numbers are overwhelming. 1.2 billion people throughout the world live in extreme poverty. Accordingly, extreme poverty is defined by the World Bank as living below $1 per day purchasing power parity threshold. And, by the year 2025, the United Nations set the Millennium Challenge goal of eliminating extreme poverty. Many statistics currently suggest that this goal may not be met. But, these are just statistics, and they’re easy to get lost in. In Bangladesh, at least, the goal appears to be well on the way. When you travel through Bangladesh meeting the microcredit borrowers, you realize that behind every number is a life—real people and real families. Suddenly, the numbers fade away and the statistics come alive.

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