Microfinance and climate change

This article in The New York Times has had many people sitting up and taking notice of black carbon as a prominent agent of global warming. Naturally, since the pollutant is created from millions of disparate, non-descript sources, a sweeping public policy proposal may be called for.

In supplying more efficient cooking equipments, such as LPG, microfinance distrribution channels may have a role to play. NGOs in the past have tried (and continue to try) promote small inovative technologies among people. The most common problem with these improved technologies is maintenance. From clogging pipes in smokeless stoves to faults in batteries or circuits in LED systems, there are a whole range of challenges that technology entrepreneurs have to address.

But microfinance taking up these programs is another story. Can MFIs handle moving away from their plain vanilla micro-credit products? MFIs have found it difficult to sustain relatively minor distribution services such as calcium tablets and vaccines for women and children, and more complicated services such as micro-insurance.

What do you think?

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