Friday, September 22, 2006

Transparency and Microfinance

Due to the current UN general assembly there seems to be increased talk about the effectiveness of the UN. As I reflect on all I am reading I began to think about the role of the UN from a very critical perspective. If you consider the UN to have been ineffective in helping developing countries over the last three decades. And if you consider that the UN agenda seems to be "exclusively" directed by the group of eight countries (particularly the US and UK). I begin to wonder if the UN has become a costly intermediary that is no longer required. Now this thinking isn't new.
Currently, there is a huge movement afoot to decentralize and empower the developing world at the community level, and many believe that a decentralized approach would be the most effective. So why do we have such huge amounts of our tax dollars going to support an ineffective global infrastructure?
Think even further about the changes that the internet is bringing. In particular, the concept of disintermediary and the technology tools to bring greater transparency. Why not just allow donors to target thier donations how they see best. Even have an infrastructure that allows everyone to track their donation to the recipient, and see where administrative costs are consumed.
The simple and effective microfinance site of kiva may be leading the way toward people being able to assist as they see best without the added costs of infrastructure.