ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Our Moral Compass Remains True

Two responses to "Has Microfinance Lost Its Moral Compass?" (David Hulme and Mathilde Maitrot, EPW, 29 November 2014). The first argues that microfinance institutions in Bangladesh remain client-focused and mission-oriented. The second examines the ever contentious issue of high interest rates.

I fundamentally disagree that the Bangladesh microfinance sector has lost, or is at risk of losing its “moral compass”. Rather, I would argue that microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Bangladesh remain the most client-focused and mission-oriented. This may seem like a bold assertion, but one needs only to look at some of the changes that have occurred within the Bangladesh microfinance sector in the last four or five years to understand that our social missions are alive and well. David Hulme and Mathilde Maitrot’s “Has Microfinance Lost Its Moral Compass?” (EPW, 29 November 2014) omission of these threatens the overall validity and value of their research in their paper.

Critics of microfinance level a common accusation at the sector – that proponents overhype the benefits of microcredit with the help of a few anecdotes of success. Hulme and Maitrot follow precisely the same methodology in their paper. A few choice, journalistic anecdotes are selected to provide “evidence” of the mission drift of microfinance. This is neither ethical nor helpful.

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