Through a one-month-long investigation, I found that some of the world’s largest microfinance organizations are charging exorbitant rates, demanding payment a week after a loan is given, and taking women to the police when they can’t repay in Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries. Because of these strict conditions, many of the women end up in a spiral of debt, desperately trying to keep up with payments. Even some people who work within the microfinance industry suggest that microfinance looks more like a “payday loan” than a mechanism to get women out of poverty. One woman I interviewed put it best: “These organisations know we’re poor. So how are we supposed to pay it back so quickly? The loan is too small, the interest is too high.”
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