Every so often, we highlight interesting articles and books that touch upon microfinance, poverty or international development. Today's list includes some back-and-forth involving one of America's top newspaper columnists and a new book about one man's experiences in the microfinance industry:
- Over at The Atlantic, Max Fisher has collected a rare public back-and-forth between The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Ugandan writer-entrepreneur Teddy Ruge about the media's coverage of Africa. It all began when Ruge responded to a Kristof tweet promoting a column on the "Rise of Africa". Ruge wrote: "... @NickKristof wakes to the idea that Africa is Rising. Hey Nick, I've been writing that line for 5 years now." Kristof then fired back: "Then I beat you to it: I wrote my first 'Africa is rising' piece in 1997." Click here to read the rest of their exchange, in which Ruge states that if Kristof "did nothing but write about Africa is Rising from now on, it'd take u decades to reverse damage u've done to our image." Ouch.
- Over at The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman has written a good piece discussing the ongoing protests in Sudan and whether they are a sign that the Arab Spring is "sweeping into Sudan". He writes: "It seems much of the kindling is already there: a repressive, autocratic regime that has been in power 23 years; a dire economic crisis; heavily armed insurrection in several corners of the country; and a fired-up protest movement that goes beyond the usual suspects of students and unemployed youths to shopkeepers and housewives, all willing to literally take a beating." Click here to read the whole article.
- This week also brought some more negative press about the microfinance industry. A new book by 10-year industry veteran Hugh Sinclair is set to hit store shelves in the US next week. Sinclair, it seems, had a knack for finding employment with microfinance institutions (MFIs) that were poorly managed, possibly corrupt and largely ineffective. His account of these experiences makes up the bulk of Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic. While a lot of books on microfinance can be heavy on procedure and light on narrative, Sinclair manages to mix in both to create a fascinating – and sometimes depressing – look at examples of MFIs that have gone off the rails. Nonetheless, this book, available next week on BN.com and Amazon.com, is a must-read if you want to learn how to distinguish between good and bad practices in the microfinance industry.