Are MFI staff biased against the physical manifestations of severe poverty? Lisa Kuhn Fraioli, in this Truelift blog post, describes an exercise she took MFI staff through in order to illuminate how “the poorest members of society can become invisible to us.”
“Many of the people who were chosen based on their profiles were not chosen based on their pictures, revealing an apparent disconnect between the intent to serve poorer clients and the ability to identify them visually.” Read more!
In the article below, Lisa Kuhn Fraioli recounts some experiences in the field and her reflections on pro-poor outreach:
Sometimes seeing is the first obstacle
to better outreach to the poorest.
In my work with microfinance organizations around the world, I have noticed that efforts to serve more poor people can stumble on the very first step: seeing them.
One experience in particular stands out from my experience with a very well-meaning MFI whose staff claimed that there were not poorer clients or women to whom they could lend. In order to shed some light, I went out and interviewed people whom I thought were potential clients who were poorer than those currently served and took their pictures. I also interviewed and photographed some people at a slightly higher economic level that I thought resembled the people they were currently serving.
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