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Small Change Big Deal
Money As If People Mattered
by Jennifer Kavanagh
Publisher:Business Books imprint of John Hunt
Written by someone who has worked with the poorest of the poor and by using the Grameen model of peer group lending has seen very positive results of lifting women out of that degree of poverty. This is Microcredit at its very best.
In 1974 a Bangladeshi economist called Mohammad Yunus ‘looked at the women begging on his doorstep and wondered why he was bothering with high economics. He lent a total of $27 to 42 women to enable them to start businesses. And so microcredit was born.
Jennifer Kavanagh tells how it works on the ground. How groups of women (usually women) are brought together and taught what a small loan could do for them. Not to repay previous loans or to be spent on commodities for themselves or their families, but to start small sustainable businesses with low interest and strict repayment regulation. How this works in practice is told in detail and differs from country to country to suit the different needs. I found the majority of the chapters inspiring and intensely interesting but then came the downside. The entering into the market by the big money lenders who do it for a profit: NOT what the Grameen bank is all about. I could have wept at the distortions that have been called microcredit and given the term such a bad name in some parts of the world. The author’s final sentence sums it up for me – ‘when it (microcredit) is done sensitively and appropriately to the local conditions it can transform lives.’
Reviewer: Mary Bartholomew (05/07/12)