A Microlender Backs Startups to Bring More Than Loans to the Poor

Farmers near Allahabad, Inda Photograph by Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

Microlending has lost a lot of its shine in the seven years since Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for delivering small loans to help poor women start businesses. Starting in 2009, randomized trials (PDF) suggested that the benefits of microfinance had been oversold and that small loans have limited power to lift people from poverty. The next year, borrower suicides in India followed overreach by for-profit microlenders, punctuating the point.

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