Sunday, October 21, 2007
Below is a comment I wrote at the blog The Feminist Review, where I sometimes review books. It is a response to M.C. Schaefer's review of the book What's Wrong with Microfinance?
I haven't read this book, though I would like to. I have read Muhammed Yunus' book about microfinance, as well as Wall Street Journal and Economist Magazine articles on the topic.
I'd suggest that anyone looking to see what Grameen Bank is all about read a history of the bank, either Muhammed Yunus' own book Banker to the Poor or one that tries to be unbiased. From this review, it seems this collection of essays is anti-capitalism, while the system of microfinance uses capitalism to lift people from abject poverty to a more livable state, while encouraging women's rights (according to Grameen's statistics, 98% of loans go to women who typically are ignored and abused by society. Through these loans and lending groups, women are protected. Yunus quotes one man complaining that he can no longer beat his wife because the other women in her lending group complain when he does and their society criticizes him - not a bad result, I'd say).
Again, I have not read this book, but what I have read about microfinace suggests that is is good for women and for the towns/villages that such banks are established. I'd suggest anyone looking to find out more about this topic begin with a different book to find facts on microfinance, then move to this one for essay and opinion.
And I will definitely be adding this book to the ever-growing pile of books I want to read.