Historically excluded by traditional financial service providers, the majority of the world's three billion people who are living on less than $2 per day have no access to formal savings, loan, insurance, and/or payment services. Over the past 35 years, specialized micro-finance institutions have sprung up around the world to meet the financial needs of poor people and help lift them out of poverty.
This course provides an in-depth overview of the global micro-finance business, tracing its evolution from a social, NGO-dominated movement to an increasingly commercial $50-billion industry. Readings, lectures and case studies will be used to highlight current micro-finance practices and explore how global capital markets are responding to the huge latent demand for financial services from the poor. Students will also learn how international micro-finance models have been applied to low-income and under-banked segments of the U.S. economy and what lessons can be learned from domestic institutions seeking to serve this market in a profitable way.