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Archive for the ‘The village’ Category

Time to take the fish to market.

Microfinance depends vitally on a modern cultural value that drives the global economy: the time-value of money. Microfinance practices work where this value is already well developed. The poorest parts of the world, almost by definition, are those where this value is not well understood.

Take Lawino for example: (more…)

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As observed by communications theorist Walter Ong, villagers in oral communities often don’t trust written text.

Ong cites a study of community decision-making from 12th century England. (Orality and Literacy, p. 95). Writing already had a long history in England, (more…)

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In 2002 I visited Ashrai, an NGO in northwest Bangladesh that was forming savings-financed ‘self-help groups’ among some of the world’s poorest women. I was referred to Ashrai by Stuart Rutherford, and I was writing an article about them for a microfinance journal.

Empowering women?

Picture this: it is mid-day in a Naogaon village, and a group of 20 women are seated in a loose square on woven bamboo mats. Clean, brightly coloured saris are draped over their shoulders, and flow down their legs.

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Cash? Can I take it in lumber, please?

A number of mobile banking experts have been envisioning the ‘cash-less village’, in which villagers pay for groceries and services on their mobile phones. But, in his book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist at Duke University, shows how the degree of abstraction of our currency can lead us to experience greater and greater distance from our ethical values, increasing moral hazard.

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Quietly watching us.

Imagine if, each morning as you pulled out of your driveway, you were touched by the gaze of the same child, watching you from the sidewalk. Her gaze is as open and undemanding as the earth, and as curious and deeply conscious as any you’ve received from your own children. She is also visibly poverty-stricken.

I took this photo while visiting a small village bank in Cambodia. Whenever foreigners enter a village there, curious children gather to watch. These two stood quietly on the fringe of my meetings with the village adults for over an hour. (more…)

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Poor villagers in the developing world are a distinctive, underserved microfinance segment. There are nearly a billion rural people who make less than $1.25 a day, and most are illiterate or marginally literate, so microfinance documents are inaccessible to them.

There are three widely neglected factors that make rural microfinance fundamentally different from urban microfinance. (more…)

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Rural villages in the developing world are oral cultures; that is cultures in which the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most people.

Kraing Tbong Village Bank, Takeo

A village bank in Cambodia

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