Seven ideas for microfinance reform in Cambodia

Debtors were struggling even before the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

In my Diplomat column on October 9 (“Can Cambodia’s Looming Microfinance Disaster be Averted?”) I pointed out some of the more nuanced problems found in the solutions already pitched to solve Cambodia’s microfinance crisis. According to some feedback, I was being more destructive than prescriptive; pointing out faults without stating any alternatives.

So here are seven ideas that, I believe, could go some way toward correcting the sector and bringing it back to its original ambitions and ideals, which still exist beneath the layers of greed and jobbery that have suffocated the microfinance system in recent years.

They are not overly radical, and would protect the short-term interests of debtors struggling during the pandemic-induced economic crisis as well as the long-term interests of microfinance institutions (MFIs). They are by no means extensive or comprehensive (there are perhaps two dozen decent ideas floating about of how the sector can be reformed) and I doubt if there is the political will to implement most.

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