Why the SEWA model of self-reliance is way better than Usury model of Microfinance
Professor Jagdish Bhaghwati favors the SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) model of helping poor people over the much-maligned Microfinance, which seems to be just another exorbitantly-paying employment scheme for MBA/Finance types. Professor Bhaghwati writes:
1. ...the true pioneer of microfinance is a remarkable woman from Ahmedabad, India (where Mahatma Gandhi had his ashram), Ela Bhatt, a follower of Gandhi who established SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association) as a bank in April 1974, two years before Yunus founded his Grameen Bank Project in Jobra, Bangladesh.
2. Throughout its existence, SEWA has been regulated by India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, staying strictly within the law and seeking no special dispensations.
3. Unlike the Grameen Bank, it has received no foreign money (such as the grant of $100 million from Norway, the handling of which led to the initial charges of malfeasance against Yunus), and it has distributed dividends of 9-12% annually each year since its founding.
... SEWA has demonstrated that poor, self-employed women can own and run a financial body in a self-sustained fashion without external largess.