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Last on

Sun 22 May 2011 17:00 BBC Radio 4

40 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 17 May 2011

The bankers are back in the spotlight - this time financing an explosion in lending services for the poorest people on earth. They are building on the original dream of "micro-finance" with an array of new products for very poor people, funded in part by raising private debt and equity in London and the world's other financial capitals.

It is thought credit, insurance and mortgages could improve the lives of people in slums and villages from Bangladesh to Bolivia. Yet with mounting attacks on micro-finance's idealistic founder Muhammad Yunus, there are also concerns that this rapid injection of investment capital could hurt the poorest.

Mukul Devichand tells the intimate story of one slum lane in India, where a group of women have been targeted by the audacious plan to create financial services for the "bottom billion."

His report asks one of the most important questions of our time: can financial markets help the poorest, or do they need to be protected from the profit motive?

Contributors, in order of appearance, include:
David Roodman, Centre for Global Development
Tanmay Chetan, Agora Microfinance
Meenal Patole, Agora Microfinance India Limited
Jayesh Modi, HSBC
Yezdi Malegam, Reserve Bank of India
Nitin Aggarwal, Spandana Sphoorty Financial Services
R Subramanyam, Principal Secretary of Rural Development, Andhra Pradesh
Vijay Mahajan, Basix
Professor Abhijit Banerjee, MIT
Rajnish Dhall, Micro Housing Financial Corporation

Presenter: Mukul Devichand
Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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