Microfinance in post-war countries: the Balkans

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In this first semester of 2016, I had the fortune to travel around the Balkans. Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo… They are all countries that were once a unity but now striving to create their separate identities and with that, new governments and sets of regulations. Especially when you notice a cement wall full of gun shots in Sarajevo or house after house being built with bare bricks outside Pristina, I found it encouraging to witness what countries that were in war just 20 years ago look like today.

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My latest publication: Microcredit and the local economy

Dear readers,

If you are interested in the relationship between the local economy and the sustainability of microfinance institutions (MFIs), please check out my latest publication on the online journal, Savings and Development.

Direct link to the article: http://savingsanddevelopment.unibg.it/microcredit-in-the-context-of-political-and-fiscal-economic-development/

This article poses the question, “Is decentralisation capable of creating a more enabling environment for pro-poor programmes?”. By using microcredit as an example of such a service, I look into the increasing trend, especially amongst developing countries, to decentralise their local governments and how this interplays with the financial and social efficiency of MFIs. This article has been reviewed by a panel of experts in microfinance, formed by Positive Planet and the European Microfinance Platform.

I look forward to your comments. Thank you!

Mastrojeni: The health of the environment coincides with justice

Back in June 2015, the European Microfinance Platform, e-MFP, organised a workshop on “Enhancing Food Security and Resilience to Climate Change: What Role for Microfinance?” at the campus of University of Bergamo, Italy. This was a two-day long workshop, where practitioners in the field of microfinance and food security – such as the UN agency, IFAD – gathered together to discuss their experiences and future plans about ways to use microfinance to tackle issues revolved around food security and climate change. Continue reading

“Inequality is a choice”. – Joseph Stiglitz

As part of the LSE International Inequalities Institute lecture series, Joseph Stiglitz spoke at the London School of Economics about his new book, The Great Divide, which focuses on inequality and the crisis. This presentation was eye-opening, because through his accounts about the economic crises in the past and today, Stiglitz argues that inequality is a choice and that it is reproduced by policies. Continue reading

Law, Economics and the Republic of Beliefs; A lecture by Kaushik Basu

On March 3, 2015, the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, Kaushik Basu, spoke at the Amartya Sen Lecture held at the London School of Economics (LSE). Basu was a PhD student of Sen at the LSE and is currently one of the only two chief economists at the World Bank that come from a developing country. In this occasion, Basu spoke about law and economics and how they influence human behaviour. In particular, Basu argued that, especially in developing countries, the law is fine on paper but it does not get implemented. Continue reading

#SOSEurope #SOSRefugees

About 700 people died, just like that, in the Mediterranean today. Politicians continue to point fingers at each other, failing to put anything into action. I find that prayers are not enough, so what can we do?
– Anyone in the world: The quickiest and easiest way to help is to sign this petition of Amnesty International, to request for the strengthening of rescue services in the Mediterranean and the provision of safe and legal routes to Europe for the refugees. http://www.sos-europe-amnesty.eu/stop-people-from-suffering-and-dying-at-our-borders-actions/
– European and other Mediterranean friends: Find any way to put pressure (sign other petitions?) on your national government to accept a larger quota of refugees and to help with the rescue missions in the Mediterranean. This is a particularly critical plea for Greece and Malta.
– Friends in Italy, especially Milan: I volunteer to give first-aid assistance to refugees arriving in Milan by train (at their own expense). If you would like to help, please donate gym shoes (especially for men), bags for travelling (sport bags), jeans or money so that we can provide them with clean underwear and socks to restart their lives.
– And last, for FRIENDS AGAINST REFUGEES: I don’t ask your help, I don’t ask your comprehension, but please let us do our work and please do not do anything that impedes us from helping.
If I could save enough money to send rescue ships myself, I would.

Consumer protection policies for the Bottom of the Pyramid segments

The World Bank has committed to achieving universal financial access by 2020. But when working on expanding access to financial services, it is clear that simultaneous efforts to implement consumer protection policies have to be made. Especially when it regards people who are using formal financial services for the first time, explaining all terms and conditions in small print can get such consumers in bigger troubles than what life-long financial consumers already face at times. Hence, consumer protection is vital to assure that financial inclusion will do more good than harm to people; however, policy makers today do not exactly know how to go about it yet. Continue reading

What’s in it for investors of microfinance in 2015?

One of the leading investors of microfinance institutions (MFIs), responsAbility, issued in November 2014 a report called Microfinance Market Outlook 2015: Growth driven by vast market potential. It is a brief document that outlines their projections for the microfinance market in this new year. However, because the report is clearly investor-oriented, it is largely focused on forecasts about macroeconomic growth rather than MFI operations, since the former can affect financial transaction costs. Continue reading

What’s next for the refugees of the Mediterranean?

On Wednesday, 5th of November, the Ministers of Internal Affairs of the EU countries met in Milan to finalise their proposal on migration and integration, which will then be presented to the European Commission. Oliviero Forti, the director of the Immigration Office of Caritas Italy, participated in the meeting as an observer because of his in-depth knowledge of the topic. I met Forti soon after the meeting had adjourned to learn interesting facts about the direction these conversations were taking. Continue reading

Women and Microcredit in Italy

Last month, Unione Donne in Italia (UDI Hub) held an evening event in Milan to speak about microfinance and women in Italy. This was organised with various microfinance institutes that are working on Italian soil, where a representative from each organisation described their work and explained what their experience has been with women entrepreneurs. While all speakers agreed on the fact that, also in Italy, women borrowers tend to be more reliable with repayments than men, it was interesting to hear the different perspectives about the why. Continue reading