Week 11: Micro-loans with KIVA and The Grameen Foundation

The Grameen Foundation’s goal is to help the world’s poor achieve their potential assessing their skills and goals and giving them the resources they need to achieve those goals.  Their focus is on health, agriculture, financial services, and anti-poverty.  Since 1997 the Foundation has been able to make an impact in Sub-Saharan Africa through access to financial services and creation of mobile-based solutions.

Grameen Foundation logo

The Grameen Foundation’s bank model is a village bank for that is based on principles of solidarity and trust. Micro-loans are an attempt to help small poor business owners get their business on its feet by giving them the resources and funds to do so.  The idea is that with the micro-loan the business will be able to operate, make a profit, and eventually pay back the loan. The Grameen Bank is a microfinance organization it won the Noble Peace prize in 2006.  Their target countries are countries with rural poor.  They are able to work with countries such as Uganda through mobile technology. In 2002 they launched Village Phone, Grameen’s Community Knowledge Worker works to combine mobile technology an human networks to give smallholder farmers access to accurate and timely information that helps protect their crops and improve their yields and make higher profits. In Nigeria the Grameen Foundation is part of a variety of organizations that make up the Africa Health Markets for Equity (AHME). This was co-founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the partnership seeks to improve health outcomes through the provision of quality private sector health care targeted at the poor in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

The Grameen Foundation in Uganda (source:grameenfoundation.org)

The Grameen Foundation in Uganda (source:grameenfoundation.org)

KIVA is a microfinance institution, it’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.  They partner with microfinance institutions to provide loans to people who do not have access to a traditional banking systems.  Here are some  examples of their partnerships:

        KIVA logo

In chapter 10 of Dead Aid the three interlinked stages Moyo is talking about  are as follows:

  1. Economic plan which reduces a country’s reliance on aid
  2. Choose a finance alternative
  3. Strengthening of institutions through accountability and transparency

Both Sachs and Moyo highlight the importance of an alternative plan of action, as well as the strengthening of institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.

Sachs proposal is a little different from Moyo’s.  In The End of Poverty calls for the reform of globalization called “Enlightened Globalization”.  This “Enlightened Globalization” includes a globalization of science and technology, democracies, multilateralism, and a global economic system designed to meet human needs (Sachs, 359).  Sachs sets out a 9 step program to reach this goal of “Enlightened Globalization”:

  1. A commitment to ending poverty-halving poverty by 2015 and ending extreme poverty by 2025
  2. Adopt a plan of action
  3. Raise the voice of the poor
  4. Redeem the role of the US in the world
  5. Rescue the IMF and the World Bank
  6. Strengthen the United Nations
  7. Harness a global service
  8. Promote sustainable development
  9. Make a personal commitment

Poverty abroad can easily hurt Western economies.  The effects of war, disease, poverty, and economic and political corruption can make an impact halfway across the world. The current civil war in Syria is just one example of an event happening halfway around the war that can impact the western world. The war has created thousand of refugees that now live in neighboring countries and have spread into Europe some making their way to the United States if they are able.  The conflict and instability in Syria has also caused an upsurge of terrorists group activity in Syria and surrounding areas and ISIS is considered a serious security threat across the world.

War in Syria

                    War in Syria

Outside of Moyo and Sachs there are others that argue over whether or not Africa really needs aid. Among them is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala former finance minister of Nigeria.  In this Ted Talk she speaks on the ongoing debate of aid versus trade.

Another speaker for aid to Africa is Bono.  The world famous lead singer of U2, and also the man who wrote the introduction to Sachs’ End of Poverty. 

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