Technology in Developing Economies

A Bridge Between the Modern World and Developing Economies, loans that change lives is a website that allows individuals on the Internet to finance the work of entrepreneurs in developing countries by providing them with loans. Microfinance has recently emerged as a means of supplying basic financial services to the poor, who often do not have established financial assets and thus, are not able to access basic resources such as bank accounts. Although microfinance institutions (MFIs) existed before the Internet, this online medium allows one central group to partner with multiple MFIs to bring their services all over the world. The Internet has forged new connections between members of different countries that would otherwise never have existed. This is quite analogous to mobile telephones having the capacity to create partnerships across the barrier of distance.

Empirical evidence shows that, among the poor, those participating in microfinance programs who had access to financial services were able to improve their well-being — both at the individual and household level — much more than those who did not have access to financial services. Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)

Although microfinance and the proliferation of the Internet are not the ultimate solution to the global inequality of resources and material wealth, it does encourage the developing world to interact with and support the efforts of low- and middle-income nations.

by Joe Cackler, Emily Gu, and Mike Rodgers
for CS 201: Computers, Ethics, and Social Responsibility
at Stanford University
on March 17, 2008