Truth in lending for microfinancers?
Stung by allegations of charging high interest rates, Microfinancers are considering a “truth-in-lending” type standard to apply across the industry.
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In an effort to head off a potential crisis in the fast-expanding microfinance industry, its leaders are adopting global truth-in-lending standards and creating a system for comparing loan terms offered by competing lenders. To manage the effort, a new self-monitoring organization, MicroFinance Transparency, is being set up as the industry’s policeman. The goal is to prevent companies from taking advantage of poor people with high interest rates and misleading credit offers.
The initiative was announced on July 28 at a microcredit conference in Bali by Chuck Waterfield, a professor at Columbia University who spearheaded the initiative, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who launched the microcredit revolution in Bangladesh 30 years ago with his Grameen Bank. “Microfinance emerged as a struggle against loan sharks, so we don’t want to see new loan sharks created in the name of microcredit,” Yunus tells BusinessWeek.