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micro-credit Archives

Oct12
Human Creativity and Commitment

I discussed Unitus and an interview with its Chairman, Mike Murray by Robert Scoble in a post yesterday. While the interview with Mike was enlightening for many, based on some comments it also raised several questions about micro-credit. What I think the interview communicates best, and why I mentioned it, is the leadership and innovation that Unitus is providing in addressing this important cause.

Unitus, as Mike suggests, is applying proven business principles such as “Innovation, best practices, good IT thinking, good management thinking” to the non-profit space. These are principles that Mike and others developed as executives at Microsoft, Apple, etc. They know from which they speak.

He calls Unitus a micro-credit accelerator because they are taking the principles of microfinance that have been around for several decades and are as he says “stepping on the gas pedal.” Their goals are ambitious but based on some excellent and proven data.

“Why lend these people money at 20%? Why not just give them $100?” 

Micro-credit is all about economic self-reliance and empowering an individual to lift herself out of poverty. This principle of sustainable self-reliance, more than any amount of money, changes people. It applies the laws of capitalism and free-market economics to the problem of third-world poverty where some form of socialism has been the norm. In the case of micro-credit, debt acts as a strict taskmaster that extracts fiscal discipline of this new entrepreneur. The lenders can’t be there to monitor the borrower like in traditional credit markets that we are familiar with in the U.S. 

“Isn’t an interest rate of 20% to 30% excessive?  Why doesn’t micro-credit charge interest rates at lower rates like those we see in traditional banks?” 

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