I don't believe so, but Jonathan Lewis, CEO and founder of Opportunity Collaboration and Microcredit Enterprises does. He passionately argues in this Huffington Post article
today that it is unacceptable that microfinance institutions seek to make profits and ask the poor to pay dearly for their own futures. He contends that microfinance should be no different than education, health care or even roads that are public goods. These are expected to generate long term returns to the society and it is outrageous for investors to expect profits on their investments.
"The most radical and startling economic development driver for microfinance programs is the expectation that they must be profitable or -- in economic development terms -- sustainable. This is not a standard typically used for other public goods and services.Most anti-poverty programs -- from health clinics to water projects to schools -- are budgeted with long-term external subsidies, donations, grants and in-kind assistance. As public goods, it is expected that the long-term community benefits deserve underwriting by taxpayers or donors.Neither Silicon Valley companies in California nor destitute truck drivers in Cameroon are expected to capitalize their own roads with private investment repaid from private economic activity. Public sector investments of $1.00 in United States roadways generate $6.00 of economic activity and the indirect return in jobs, taxes and quality of life improvements is deemed sufficient.In contrast, microfinance funders expect the poor to bootstrap themselves into profitability. If local microfinance programs don't increase microloan interest rates to at least cover costs, development funders and commercial markets soon look away."
I like him but have great difficulty agreeing with this point of view. He even doesn't like to think microfinance is about access to finance. In simple terms I believe it is nothing but making finance accessible to the unbanked. Hence, like any service offered for individual benefit microfinance also should be done in responsible and sustainable manner. Moreover there is hardly any evidence in developing countries that grant funded programs have produced satisfactory results.
What do you guys think?