For release July 2, 2012
Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic
How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor
By Hugh Sinclair
“An arresting expose on the microfinance industry… told with almost cinematic flair.” -- Publishers Weekly, May 2012
“Hugh Sinclair is a brave and persistent guy… [who] knows his stuff. Channeling Michael Lewis sets a pretty high bar, and the attempt makes Microfinance Heretic more fun to read than most financial books.” -- New York Journal of Books
San Francisco, CA -- This is the true story of a young IESE Business School grad who joined the burgeoning microfinance industry in the early 2000s with the intention of doing good in the world. Over the course of the following decade, he would discover vast global networks of corruption, cover-ups, and countless betrayals of the poor in what had grown into a $70 billion sector. His attempts at exposing wrongdoing would result in death threats, aggressive and personal retaliations, and legal action -- after all, the first rule of microfinance is don’t criticize microfinance. Part memoir, part financial detective story, and part exposé, these are the Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic (Berrett-Koehler, July 2012, hardcover, $27.95).
Hugh Sinclair traveled to several continents while working for numerous banks, agencies, and institutions and saw microfinance from the ground up. He soon realized that the heart-warming stories presented on sites like Kiva and Grameen Foundation were anything but commonplace in microfinance sectors. When his efforts to bring his findings to senior executives were thwarted, Sinclair became an anonymous source for The New York Times, providing information for a story that covered a wide scope of microfinance misdeeds.
But such reports only scratch the surface. In this book, Sinclair reveals the devastating dark side of this feel-good industry: rampant corruption, exorbitant interest rates, and microloans leading to fraud, child labor, prostitution, and even suicide. Much of the book centers on the scandal Sinclair uncovered involving the Nigerian nonprofit LAPO and its dealings with industry darlings Kiva, Grameen Foundation and Triple Jump. However, other key players such as Deutsche Bank, Citibank, SKS, ACCION, Grameen Bank, Blue Orchard, Calvert Foundation, and Compartamos make appearances. There are many people who do not want this story told – some of them have already intimated as much in no uncertain terms to the author.
Sinclair doesn’t just criticize and expose the industry but recommends how to fix it -- because he has seen that microfinance can work and so lays out the conditions necessary for its success. The question is: will anyone listen?
Hugh Sinclair has worked in microfinance with numerous global organizations, banks and funds for over a decade. He currently consults on microfinance strategy and portfolio management. Previously, he worked in traditional finance at ING Barings, CDC Capital Partners, and BZW Securities -- now Barclays Capital. Hugh holds a Master's degree in International and Corporate Finance from the University of Durham and an MBA from IESE Business School.
Among his accomplishments are being the first to deliver a Harvard Business case study in Mongolian and achieving the Guinness World Record for the fastest motorcycle tour from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the tip of South America. He speaks frequently at business schools and microfinance conferences.