Today’s Solutions: February 03, 2023

For a while, microfinance was the hottest trend in global development. The promise? That you could transform a poor person’s life with a very small loan that would let them start their own business — and then the lender gets their money back, which could then go on to transform someone else’s life. That early promise proved to be inflated. Microfinance did not, in fact, solve global poverty. But it wasn’t a complete failure either. Under the right circumstance, it does seem to improve conditions for some poor people. This month, a new study affirmed that finding in an unlikely place: New Jersey. The Garden State has recently played host to a program that allows low-income women to apply for a microloan as part of a small group, and all members of the group are accountable for ensuring each member makes payment. Thus far, the program found that recipients were less likely to run out of money, more able to afford necessities, and assessed their financial situation as better—though no improvements in income were measured yet. Whethermicroloanss will lead to increases in well-being and income in the long run, will still have to be seen.

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