Nearly forty percent of humanity lives on an average of two dollars a day or less. If you've never had to survive on an income so small, it is hard to imagine. How would you put food on the table, afford a home, and educate your children? How would you handle emergencies and old age? Every day, more than a billion people around the world must answer these questions. Portfolios of the Poor is the first book to systematically explain how the poor find solutions to their everyday financial problems.
The authors conducted year-long interviews with impoverished villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa--records that track penny by penny how specific households manage their money. The stories of these families are often surprising and inspiring. Most poor households do not live hand to mouth, spending what they earn in a desperate bid to keep afloat. Instead, they employ financial tools, many linked to informal networks and family ties. They push money into savings for reserves, squeeze money out of creditors whenever possible, run sophisticated savings clubs, and use microfinancing wherever available. Their experiences reveal new methods to fight poverty and ways to envision the next generation of banks for the "bottom billion."
Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.
Veterans in economics and microfinance scrutinize the finances of the poor in India, Bangladesh and South Africa. Following their 250 subjects for a year, the researchers compile family "financial diaries" and report on how the poor spend money and the myriad resources that function like portfolios. A confluence of circumstances the authors term a "triple whammy" (low and unreliable income, irregular cash flows and financial instruments ill-suited to the needs of this population) makes saving essential, and the poor depend on savings clubs, insurance clubs, money guarders or microfinance institutions. It is often a piecemeal approach, and any emergency can have disastrous consequences. With the advent of Muhammad Yunus's Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1976 and Grameen II in 2001, the growing global profile of microfinance might give the population more access to funds through reliable, flexible means but the majority must turn to family, friends, neighbors or moneylenders. While the book's methodology and conclusions are fascinating, it is a complex and technical analysis best suited for those fluent in economics and public policy.
No wonder were all poor
It would take 10 full work days for the poor to afford this book.