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Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic by Hugh Sinclair

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1 Thou Shalt Not Criticize Microfinance

“I’m a dodgy moneylender, exploiting the poor with useless, overpriced loans, ideally obliging their children into forced labor in the process.”

This did not go down well. I had been introduced to yet another gathering of bright-eyed microfinance experts at yet another microfinance conference, and I had incorrectly assumed that irony and sarcasm were within their grasp. They were not. I attempted to redeem myself.

“Guys, I’m joking . . . it was a joke. I’m a microfinance consultant, we’re all cool . . . sorry.”

I had broken the golden rule of microfinance, the unwritten code that bonds its practitioners together. I had criticized microfinance and, perhaps worse, I had implicitly challenged the developmental ...

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