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Over the last thirty years or so, microfinance has risen to become one of the most high-profile policies to address poverty and under-development. in developing and transition countries. It is beloved of rock stars, royalty, movie stars, high profile politicians and 'trouble-shooting' economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs and Hernando de Soto. Its most famous pioneer from Bangladesh, Dr Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Microfinance is consistently rated as one of the most important innovations to have come along this past forty years or so. Dr Bateman believes, however, that microfinance doesn't actually work. His argument is that, if you look more closely, the case for microfinance has actually been largely built on a desire to advance a particular free market ideology, on hype and egregious half-truths, and - latterly - on the Wall Street-style greed, deception and individual self-interest of those actually promoting and working in microfinance. Dr Bateman shows why many of the most fundamental building blocks of microfinance are largely myths, before going on to demonstrate that microfinance actually undermines the institutional foundations required for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Dr Bateman's conclusion is that microfinance constitutes a major barrier to sustainable economic and social development, and thus also to sustainable poverty reduction. As developing and transition countries attempt to repair the coming devastation associated with the global financial crisis, Dr Bateman believes that the role of microfinance in development policy needs to be urgently and fundamentally reconsidered.
Zed Books Ltd
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