Seattle is big on microfinance, but what is it?
The short answer is that microfinance is a set of financial services such as small loans for the poor aimed at helping people get themselves out of poverty.
Sounds fairly straightforward, right? In reality, there’s a fight for the soul of microfinance going on and some of that battle has been playing out here at home.
There has been an explosion of “profit-maximizing” microfinance organizations lately which some say threatens to undermine the credibility of this anti-poverty scheme — if not its fundamental social purpose. But the proponents of profit-driven, commercial microfinance say it is the only way to really grow these services, to reach the many millions more in need of help.