The Micro Debt
In December 2007, the Danish independent journalist and film maker Tom Heinemann met with a woman by the name of Jahanara – living in a slum-like house two hours drive outside the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Shortly before she had sold her house to pay her weekly instalment’s. For months, she had been intimidated, harassed and abused by the members of her loan group and by the loan officers from the various MFI’s who had given her the loans.
Two years later the film crew went back to investigate if Jahanara had succeeded getting out of poverty.
“Not all that glitters is gold”
The meeting with Jahanara was only the first in a long string of interviews with poor people in Bangladesh, Andhra Pardesh in India and in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. The Microcredit loan-takers told the same story over and over again:
Most of them had numerous loans in various NGO’s and Micro Finance Institutions – and many must take new loans to cover the old ones. They paid annual interest rates ranging from 30-200 %, and they are under extreme social pressure from the other members of their groups not to mention how cruel and rude some of the loan officers behaves when it comes to defaulting a single weekly payment.
A Nobel banker
The documentary film also take a close look at the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Grameen Bank and Mr. Muhammad Yunus. The film reveals a number of secret documents proving how Mr. Yunus back in the mid-90’s transferred 100 mio USD – where most was donated as grants from Norway, Sweden, Germany, USA and Canada – to a new company in the Grameen-family in order to save tax in the future.
The film also brings interviews with renowned Microfinance experts such as Thomas Dichter, Milford Bateman, Alex Counts, Jonathan Morduch and David Roodman etc.