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David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog


I have a piece in the Washington Post this week based on my book. I'm told it will appear on the front page of the Outlook section of Sunday's print edition. It will look familiar to you if you follow this blog:

There has been enough time and evidence now to explore the full impact of microcredit in depth, and, set against its vaunted reputation, my verdict is dour: Microcredit rarely transforms lives. Some people do better after getting a small business loan, while some do worse — but very few climb into the middle class. It’s a constructive endeavor, but it has been vastly overhyped. And the hype has undermined the good that the movement can achieve.

Accompanying the piece is a two-minute video. The soundtrack is almost all me. Video footage is taken from two recent documentaries: Holly Mosher's Bonsai People and Tom Heinemann's Caught in Micro Debt. After the Post contacted me for ideas for the video feature, I suggested that they juxtapose clips from these two opposing films, much as I open my book with two contrasting stories of the impact of microcredit (the sad one coming from Heinemann). My idea was to show the audience both the power and the limitations of stories as ways of understanding the impact of microfinance and much else. Then the Post decided to put me in the mix, so I'm not sure that my original idea comes through. But I'm pleased with what they selected from their interview with me.

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