KONY2012 launched last week and I kept thinking to myself, haven’t we been through this before?
Central figure putting himself in a story of poverty where you can help the helpless by giving the privileged guy money. One year out of the fraud of Three Cups of Tea fiasco and we seem to forget that any charity with a central figure looking to promote their story with this UNBELIEVABLY well put together story is a *gasp* fraud.
A conversation I’ve had several times over the last few years is on the value of aid. Microlending seems to be the most participated in direct aid that my friends participate in, but…
The distinction isn’t just academic. While the earlier generation of microlenders were non-profits that tended to loan to collectives or cooperatives, 50% of microlenders now loan just to individuals, and 25% are for-profit businesses. They are acting more like traditional lenders, and their loans aren’t cheap, with 10–100% annualized interest. Because microcredit continues to be praised as a development strategy, discerning whether such loans can have positive effects without the bells and whistles that sometimes accompany it is key.
So where is one to go to help? Celebrating charity fraud (charifraud ?) should be just as rejected as the premise of withholding aid. The biggest surprise of the traveling I’ve been doing is the amount of fraud around charity. It has made me super hesitant to participate.
What works? Knowledge share is super important, as is government and medicine. There are things that are working, which is refreshing.
The only ask I wish more took the time to ask: can we move beyond these perfect storms of fraud and actually concentrate on communities where we know the names of the citizens (our own backyards)?