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Hugh Sinclair's Page

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Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic

What if there was evidence that micro-loans DON'T make a dent in long term poverty?

  • Radio Silence

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Radio Silence

    I apologise for the recent radio silence from the microfinance heretic. This has not been due to a shortage of items to write about – to the contrary. I have lost track of how many frauds, collapses and scandals there have been in Ghana; some of the Finca data emerging currently is deeply distu...

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    July 29, 2015

  • Too Big to Fail (Just Got Bigger)

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Too Big to Fail (Just Got Bigger)

    Credicorp bought MiBanco for $179m. According to the stated equity on the MixMarket, this would suggest they paid 1.25x the net equity of the bank, for a 61% stake. This is a low price compared to most microfinance transactions, but let’s face it, it wasn’t Peru’s best bank. The owner already h...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Spincofin – a Flawed Interview with the CEO of Incofin

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Spincofin – a Flawed Interview with the CEO of Incofin

    There was a lovely article published recently. Concise, and in a single question one can see the fundamental flaws in the presentation of microfinance. BxLConnect interviewed Loïc De Cannière, CEO of microfinance investment fund Incofin. One question from the article is worth examining closely: Q...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Incestuous Relationships, Spin & PR in Microfinance

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Incestuous Relationships, Spin & PR in Microfinance

    My friend Beth Rhyne (of Smart, CFI and Accion) recently posted a bizarre article on the CFI blog (i.e. on her blog) in which she pleads for money. The premise is that the infrastructure of the microfinance sector, by which she refers to her own institution and those of her buddies, needs fixin...

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    March 6, 2015

  • How Can I Invest in Microfinance? Part 1

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    How Can I Invest in Microfinance? Part 1

    The question recurs frequently. Well-meaning individuals, and occasionally institutions, contact me asking how they can invest in microfinance. Sometimes they are disillusioned with their existing choice of investment vehicle, other times they are considering microfinance for the first time. Sinc...

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    March 6, 2015

  • How Can I Invest in Microfinance? Part 2: My Zidisha Experience

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    How Can I Invest in Microfinance? Part 2: My Zidisha Experience

    I first came across Zidisha on a radio program with Rose Aguilar in San Francisco. Kiva had refused to participate, so Rose arranged for Zidisha to participate by phone. Knowing very little about them I was a little nervous. However, as we discussed matters, live on-air, I found myself provisiona...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Microfinance Reality Check

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Microfinance Reality Check

    In 2009 I bought a 5-year bond issued by IFFIm – the International Finance Facility for Immunisation. I invested £5000 and received £5810 a few days ago (with accumulated interest). Not the best return on capital in history, but not bad considering current interest rates and the intervening fin...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Mysterious Update from Microfinance P2Ps

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Mysterious Update from Microfinance P2Ps

    Readers of this blog or the Next Billion blog will have detected a certain cynicism of mine regarding peer-to-peer organisations (P2Ps) operating in the microfinance sector. In fact most of my concerns are focussed upon Kiva. I find Zidisha a refreshing and innovative alternative to Kiva, but not...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Wonga vs. Microfinance

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Wonga vs. Microfinance

    A fascinating story emerged on the BBC today. A controversial payday lender called Wonga came to a voluntary settlement with the UK regulator (FCA) after admitting it had been lending recklessly, at high interest rates, to people otherwise excluded from the financial sector. It has agreed to writ...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Smart or Crafty?

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Smart or Crafty?

    Smart Campaign rarely speak in public. They lecture, but dislike questions. This is a rational response given their flawed certification model, which has just managed to praise one of the world’s most vilified institutions, Compartamos. Besides a few MIVs paying lip-service to client protection i...

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    March 6, 2015

  • Generous or Excessive Salaries at Accion?

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Generous or Excessive Salaries at Accion?

    I was scanning the 2014 Charity CEO Compensation Guide published by Charity Navigator. It’s an interesting read. Needless to say the numbers were substantially higher than what I earn, and occasionally seemed distasteful to me. “We know that many donors continue to be concerned by what they belie...

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    March 6, 2015

  • hughsinclair

    Hugh Sinclair is now a member of Berrett-Koehler Community

  • Taking a Closer Look: The Images of Microfinance

    Hugh Sinclair posted a blog post

    Taking a Closer Look: The Images of Microfinance

    The image: a local, smiling woman sitting in her hut with a newly-purchased sewing machine, surrounded by her grateful children and her friendly next-door neighbors. Unfortunately this picture is a myth. Here’s why: Such cases are surprisingly hard to find in practice. The clients ...

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    April 8, 2014



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"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke