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Causal Strategic Inference in Networked Microfinance Economies

Neural Information Processing Systems

Performing interventions is a major challenge in economic policy-making. We propose \emph{causal strategic inference} as a framework for conducting interventions and apply it to large, networked microfinance economies. The basic solution platform consists of modeling a microfinance market as a networked economy, learning the parameters of the model from the real-world microfinance data, and designing algorithms for various computational problems in question. We adopt Nash equilibrium as the solution concept for our model. For a special case of our model, we show that an equilibrium point always exists and that the equilibrium interest rates are unique.


Microfinancing Pakistan's female entrepreneurs

Al Jazeera

Lahore, Pakistan - Zeenat Afza saw her whole world come crashing down when her husband, who worked in Saudi Arabia as a tailor, died of lung cancer in 2006. However, buried in 1.75 million rupees ($1,6700) of debt and with four young children to support, the housewife had little time to grieve. "When my husband passed away, everything finished," she told Al Jazeera, while stitching in the living room of her first floor three-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. "I had nothing, but a lot of debt." The 53-year-old widow took a 10,000 rupee ($95) loan from Kashf Foundation, a non-profit microfinance institution (MFI), and started a small stitching business from home.


Microloans, Seen as Salvation for Poor Women, Trap Many in Debt

NYT > Middle East

Reached by phone, she said she had requested a loan of $600 from Ahli Microfinance. When the company asked her what she planned to do with the money, she lied and said she wanted to open a home-based business. Instead she used the money to pay rent. "We thought it was a solution to help us, a way to survive," she said. The company did not seem to be concerned about where the money went, she said.


Microfinance pioneer Grameen Bank to set up Japan branch next year

The Japan Times

Grameen Bank, the Bangladesh-based organization known for providing small loans in poverty-stricken rural areas, is planning to open a branch in Japan next summer, sources said Saturday. Grameen Japan will focus on helping people in need of financial aid such as those receiving welfare benefits and struggling single mothers as they look for work opportunities. Founder and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus visited Japan in February and agreed to set up the branch with Meiji Gakuin University professor Masahiro Kan, an expert in microfinance who has previously worked at the World Bank. A preparatory body was created last month to work out details. "One out of six people, or 20 million people, live under the poverty line in Japan," said Kan, referring to the minimum level of income adequate to live in the country and underscoring the need for the system -- which started in developing economies -- in one of the world's wealthiest countries. The branch will follow Grameen Bank's system of pushing borrowers to repay loans on time by having them form five-person groups in which tardiness will make it difficult for others in the group to borrow, while punctuality could be rewarded with bigger loans.


SheEO has a plan to build a $1 billion fund for female founders

Mashable

Most crowdfunding platforms fund individual ideas. And most organizations use microfinance to support entrepreneurs in the developing world. One group of investors thinks both those techniques could help elevate another overlooked group: female founders.