Here is the essence of his argument from his NYT op-ed:
"Commercialization has been a terrible wrong turn for microfinance, and it indicates a worrying “mission drift” in the motivation of those lending to the poor. Poverty should be eradicated, not seen as a money-making opportunity.
There are serious practical problems with treating microcredit as an ordinary profit-maximizing business. Instead of creating wholesale funds dedicated to lending money to microfinance institutions, as Bangladesh has done, these commercial organizations raise larger sums in volatile international financial markets, and then transmit financial risks to the poor.
Furthermore, it means commercial microcredit institutions are subject to demands for ever-increasing profits, which can only come in the form of higher interest rates charged to the poor, defeating the very purpose of the loans.
Some advocates of commercialization say it’s the only way to attract the money that’s needed to expand the availability of microcredit and to “liberate” the system from dependence on foundations and other charitable donors. But it is possible to harness investment in microcredit — and even make a profit — without working through either charities or global financial markets.
Grameen Bank, where I am managing director, has 2,500 branches in Bangladesh. It lends out more than $100 million a month, from loans of less than $10 for beggars in our “Struggling Members” program, to micro-enterprise loans of about $1,000. Most branches are financially self-reliant, dependent only on deposits from ordinary Bangladeshis. When borrowers join the bank, they open a savings account. All borrowers have savings accounts at the bank, many with balances larger than their loans. And every year, the bank’s profits are returned to the borrowers — 97 percent of them poor women — in the form of dividends.
More microcredit institutions should adopt this model. The community needs to reaffirm the original definition of microcredit, abandon commercialization and turn back to serving the poor."This is certainly a compelling model and moral argument for mission-driven business. What a different world this would be if more businesses shared it. Nevertheless, there is still the argument that commercialized microlending provides more funds to those who need it than the more mission-driven model. But is it worth it, given how many borrowers are left not only bankrupt, but arguably worse off than they were initially after going to extreme lengths to pay exorbitant interest rates?