Friday, October 9, 2009

Pension Funds Capitalize on Microfinance

Over the past few years, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have done fairly well, surviving the global recession while still turning a profit.  The sector’s stability has attracted the attention of pension funds, which currently invest around $3 billion in MFIs and the trend is on the rise.  TIAA-CREF, a US based retirement fund promised in 2006 to invest $100 million in microfinance over the next four years.  So far, the fund has seen an annual return of 20%, but with annual interest rates of up to 30% for microloans, the philanthropic nature of some of the MFIs has been called into question.

Diary of an Aid Worker in Sumatra

The BBC published a report by Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent detailing the difficulties of coordinating the delivery of aid to Sumatra, which was hit by a deadly earthquake last week.  The involvement of  over 150 foreign NGOs and troops from numerous countries makes the effort to deliver aid to earthquake victims as much a challenge of communication and organization as it is of physically getting supplies to remote villages.

Earthquake Preparation Protects Village from Casualties

The September 30th earthquake in Sumatra damaged around 90% of the houses in the village of Mangopo, which is just north of the Padang, near the epicenter of the earthquake.  Amazingly, however, there were no casualties as a result of emergency response training by the Mercy Corp.  At the onset of the earthquake, community leaders organized an evacuation of the village, sparing lives.  Surrounding villages that did not receive evacuation training suffer fatalities in the quake.