Microfinance | Of Mind and Money | Page 2

Microfinance

This is a comprehensive list of all articles across various publications that relate to Microfinance.


A physicists view of financial bubbles

Posted on May 13, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. Comments Off on A physicists view of financial bubbles

Thought this would be interesting to all of you folks who are interested in making sense of the recent financial crisis (and/or trying to figure out if there is a microfinance investing bubble in India). Physicists Didier Sornette, Ryan Woodard and some others have been working to create predictive ‘bubble diagnostics’. These diagnostics are based on non linear positive feedback models that have their basis in imitative human behavior. They are running The Financial Crisis Observatory which they describe as “a scientific platform aimed at testing and quantifying rigorously, in a systematic way and on a large scale the hypothesis that financial markets exhibit a degree of inefficiency and a potential for predictability, especially during regimes when bubbles develop”.

Last year they published a paper called Financial Bubbles, Real Estate bubbles, Derivative Bubbles, and the Financial and Economic Crisis in … Read More »


Microfinance, money flow and social impact

Posted on May 1, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 1 Comment

The traditional thinking in microfinance is that it is a way to help people extricate themselves from the clutches of local moneylenders who charge exorbitant interest rates. As microfinance institutions, we believe, that by charging less we are doing great social service. Typically, when academics study the impact of microfinance, they look at people who have received microfinance compared to people who haven’t in order to see who is better off across various dimensions. Evidence suggests that even if individual borrowers are not actually making profits that exceed the interest charges, they might do better on other dimensions that relate to patterns of consumptions. Access to a lump sum of money at once, for instance, allows borrowers to afford goods and services they would otherwise not be able to that give them a better quality of life. However, if we … Read More »


Connected we succeed, divided we default

Posted on April 26, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 3 comments

At Madura Microfinance, one of our primary assumptions is that women who are more informed and better connected will be more successful and make more productive use of loans.So, much of our efforts are aimed at increasing networks and access to information among our members. A PhD Student from Oxford, Sangamitra Ramachander, recently studied our women’s borrower groups to see what kind of factors predicted whether a group went successfully on to the next higher level loan or would default.This is still a work in progress but there are some very interesting results. Here is one odd one that stood out to me. She found that women that travelled more frequently to neighbouring villages (but surprisingly not the nearest towns) were several times more likely to be successful rather than default. It’s not clear whether this factor is … Read More »


Driving socioeconomic change by making women more dependent

Posted on April 19, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 6 comments

Yes, I meant to type dependent. Here’s why.

One of the great drivers of mankind’s progress has been our ability to specialize in our knowledge and functions, organize as groups or entities that share knowledge and create amazing things that no individual could do on his or her own. Done well, the outcomes of organizations are far greater than the sum of its parts. The most awesome things that mankind has created – jet planes, space stations, the power grid, they are all borne of interconnected, highly dependent networks of people. Our (Madura’s) women micro-entrepreneurs are the antithesis of this dependence. They are highly unspecialized and operate independently (women, only because that’s who we serve, but this applies to men too). These micro-entrepreneurs strategize, produce, market, manage accounts and do everything on their own. This means that they rarely … Read More »


Where does the money go?

Posted on April 7, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 9 comments

Was chatting recently with Sitabhra Sinha from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, India about some ideas to study the network structure and dynamics of money and information flow in rural Tamil Nadu and he passed along a bunch of papers to me. One of them was Patterns of dominant flows in the world trade web by Serrano, Boguñá and Vespignani. This mix of people from Europe and the U.S. took international trade data and reconstructed the trade network to look at imbalances between countries. They then asked where one dollar generated in any given country ends up being ‘absorbed’ or accumulated in the world. They called this the ‘dollar game’. For big consumer nations like the U.S. no surprise that a big chunk ends up in Japan and China. Where the money ends up accumulating is not completely … Read More »


The Madura Experiment

Posted on March 27, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. Comments Off on The Madura Experiment

Madura is a for-profit social enterprise whose core business is providing small unsecured loans to the poor. In India and around the world microfinance is very much an evolving sector. Today microfinance is practiced either for-profit or not-for-profit, each with its own unique drivers.

The prevalent for-profit approach is scale focused and profit driven. In this model the goal is to create a streamlined process for the disbursement and collection of loans that allows loans to be pushed out as rapidly as possible. Interest rates for this model generally range between 25 to 40% in India today. This is profitable business. Unfortunately it has also been widely publicized and hyped as a path out of poverty. On the positive side, it provides a conduit for more fund flow into the ‘subsistence’ economy and over time competition will result in innovations to … Read More »