Wherever you create circumstances [that] can help the vicious circle [of extreme poverty] become virtuous, there is where you can help these people come out from poverty.
About 10 years ago, I was talking about “the economy of the group.” One of my colleagues told me, “You speak a lot about the economy of the group. Do you know that in Bangladesh there is a mad man who is lending money on trust to people all together, put together in a group?”
So from there, I [began] to follow this research and understand the psychological development that people have through these tools—which are the group, which are trust, which are all the relational settings—that have been created around the microcredit story.
When Professor Yunus came here [to Bologna] the first time, I asked him, “Why the group?” And he told me, “If you are afraid to do something new, suppose you ask a friend to come with you. You ask a friend to go with you and both of you are afraid, you ask a third one. And so when you have a good enough group, then you have courage to go there.” And I thought it was a fantastic metaphor because I think this is what happens for those women that start this very, very important experience and adventure.
The person who is in charge of the [microfinance client] group should be a person who is able to develop from the group and from each individual in the group the conditions for each of them to come out or to transform this vicious [cycle] into a virtuous cycle. [Further], if we want to help the borrowers develop their own knowledge and their own possibilities, I think for the officers [too] there should be an attitude to help them in always doing their work better and better.
If we focus on the idea that the group is the tool, then we have to give value to the group, to empower the group. Empower the group means to give back to the group the power to manage the whole situation. The practitioner should be the one who helps the members of the group find win-win solutions. The research of the solution that helps each other win [is] because each needs the other and they have to find a way to create this atmosphere based on dynamism: reciprocity, altruism, resonance, mirroring, and similar aspects.
So, when you are in this situation of the group, when you see your friend who is able to do something, this can enhance the mirroring process. So, if Anna is able, I might be able as well. I may not, but she may help me. If she helps me a little bit, I may be able—and so on, creating a reciprocal system of mutual help, of reciprocal respect, of understanding of the difficulties. So, if Anna shows me that she is in difficulty, I can feel a little bit relieved because I also am into a difficult situation. So, all these [aspects] of mirroring, of resonance, of mutual respect and support are something that gives back to these individuals the courage to make this kind of transformation.
Photo Credit: Lisa Brunori
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Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Reaching Fewer
- The Promise of Mobile Technology
- The Psychology of Scarcity
- Developing Appropriate Products
- Conclusion and Recommendations
- Get Your Copy