As I've mentioned, I've been asked many times whether all the bad press around microfinance in the last few years has affected perceptions among the public in general and funders in particular. Usually in response to this question, I've shrugged and pointed out that Kiva seems to be doing fine.
Despite the limited evidence around whether microfinance lifts people out of poverty, evidence shows that microfinance is critical to help poor people cope with poverty, by smoothing consumption and allowing to better deal with emergencies.
I just noticed that Kiva has revamped its individual loan pages. Here's a screen shot of a loan page from March 2007 that I dug up (thank you nau.com), for a loan to Galib Asadov, a hairdresser in Azerbaijan:
Milford Bateman, "a confessed microfinance sceptic" made a serious and novel (to me) charge against Kiva on the devfinance mailing list, that Kiva's cheap capital is padding the profits of any for-profit microfinance banks through which it lends. I tweeted his message, so I ought to share with you the reply I received from Kiva. First Milford:
The demand for direct connection is baffling to me since most donors absolutely refuse direct connection to the people in need that are closest to them. Consider: how often do you or your friends take advantage of the opportunity to give directly and establish a connection by giving $20 to the guy standing at the corner with the cardboard sign saying, “Will Work for Food”?