The BBC has done an in-depth (38 minute) radio piece on the Andhra Pradesh microfinance crisis. It distinguishes itself from other coverage (including another excellent BBC piece) by introducing the listener to actors at different points in the financial system that links investors in London to borrowers in Hyderabad. Like the earlier BBC story, it does a good job of conveying the ambiguities of the situation, though I sense an underlying skepticism of "financializing" the poor. Disclosure: I'm in it.

I like this passage at 29:15 conveying the diversity of outcomes after borrowing. The reporter, Mukul Devichand, interviewed women in the Navodhya Nagar slum in Hyderabad (pictures), which he says was a "treatment" slum in the MIT randomized study of the impact of microcredit, meaning that it was on of the 52 Spandana expanded into first.

Of the 10 women I met, Sunita was in severe debt, Alivelumenga’s business was a flop, and two others had man trouble. Manjula’s husband ran off with her loan. Karuna’s drank the money away. Most of the others have managed somehow. But two or three had done very well using the loans, one starting a sari trading firm and now building grand new house on the lane, which everyone’s gossiping about.


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