Microfinance seems simple: make small loans to the poor so they will have the capital to send their children to school, pay for health care, start a business. But lifting families from poverty also requires that they be able to protect their new assets a home, a herd, a budding enterprise. The Global Assets Project, co-led by Michael Sherraden, offers things people in developed countries take as a given: savings accounts, insurance, investment capital.
Through this project, Sherraden, 61, a professor of social development at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., is working to fulfill an ambitious vision: helping poor families accumulate sufficient funds to ride out hard times, buy the crop insurance that protects against drought and blight, insure homes so they can have not only a place to live but also the municipal services that come with a fixed address. He seeks a world in which success is a function of determination and merit, not privilege or political favor.
Wales is the president of the Global Philanthropy Forum and vice president of the Aspen Institute