Monday, August 12, 2013

Credit as a Human Right

This post is written by PHPG's summer intern, Charlie Bates. Charlie recently finished his sophomore year at Villanova University. Majoring in economics, he is spending the summer in Granada working as a microfinance intern with PHPG and also volunteers at a local elementary school with La Esperanza

The PHPG team on a loan collections day in El Pantanal

In the United States, it's common to see ads for websites that offer to calculate credit scores (think The point is obviously to judge whether someone is deserving of the privilege of access to credit. Being a 20-year-old college student, I'm fortunate enough to not know much more than that about credit scores. As I've been working with PHPG, though, I've recently been reflecting the role of credit in light of a very interesting idea by Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of microfinance. 

Yunus often repeats his deeply embedded belief, “Credit is a fundamental human right.” My first thought: isn't access to credit a privilege given to those who are deserving?

According to Yunus, access to credit is a human right because it allows people to earn themselves the things they're entitled to by virtue of their birth: food, water, shelter, education, etc. It's a human right because, without it, a substantial percentage of the world's population cannot earn enough to afford such basic necessities. 

Most people in El Pantanal, one of the communities in which PHPG works, do not otherwise have access to the credit. For those in the US who use sites like to help them get a loan for a car or a luxury item, credit is a privilege; for the folks in El Pantanal who need it to have a chance at creating a better life, it's undeniably a right. But of course, rights come with responsibilities (namely, to repay the loans). And as I explained in my last post, PHPG's clients in El Pantanal understand that responsibility.  

I'm drawing attention to this because, both for us in Nicaragua and for our supporters in the US, it's important to reflect on why we provide access to credit. People Helping People Global doesn't do it because it's a nice thing to do; we do it because we also believe that credit is a fundamental human right.  

No comments:

Post a Comment