Displaying all posts under the Big Question of Insurance
It's an important moment for the microfinance movement. At a time when real progress has been made in making financial services available to the poor, questions abound about the effectiveness of microfinance as a way of helping people escape from poverty. The priveleged position microfinance has enjoyed among poverty interventions and social investment is eroding. Charting the right path forward for microfinance--and effective investments in reducing poverty--requires a closer look at how microfinance really has worked.
April 4, 2013
In just 30 years, the microfinance movement has reached 200 million people who had been deemed "unbankable." That's a stunning success. But the narrative that drove this success has implicitly shut the vast majority of the unbanked out of the system. That's why it's time to change the story, and our minds, on how microfinance works, argue FAI's Jonathan Morduch and Timothy Ogden in Foreign Policy.
February 1, 2013
Whether the result of variable incomes, liquidity constraints or reduced access to formal financial services, poor households face unique financial constraints that undermine their ability to effectively guard against risk and accumulate meaningful savings. There’s been a lot of research into these questions in the last few years.
One of the big changes observed in discussions over microfinance in the past few years has been increasing emphasis on discussing microfinance, rather than just microcredit. In practice this has meant a lot of discussion about microsavings, with advocates pointing to studies showing greater impacts from offering savings accounts than from offering loans.
January 22, 2013
The microfinance space has never been a dull place. As the tumult of the last few years—debates about effectiveness, industry crises and crashes in several countries—seemingly dies down, it’s a good time to speculate about what’s next. It seems clear that “business as usual” in terms of rapid growth and expansion paired with unvarnished enthusiasm and uncritical praise is not what’s next.
So what is?
Poor households in developing countries face large and varied risks. Many agriculture-dependent households, for example, are at risk of drought- or flood-induced crop failures or livestock deaths. The death of a family member often implies having to fund expensive burial ceremonies, and if the deceased was the household’s primary earner, replacing her/his stream of income is an even bigger problem.
Intuitively, insurance should be highly appealing to poor households for two reasons—they face a lot of risks, and have few resources to effectively deal with negative shocks. But microinsurance hasn’t taken off. That leads to two main questions: Does microinsurance provide the benefits that we theoretically think it does? And if so, how do we overcome the barriers that are preventing people from buying insurance? Of course, the answer to the second is quite dependent on the answer to the first.