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HUGH SINCLAIR -- Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic
Hillside Club
Berkeley, CA
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HUGH SINCLAIR -- Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic
Berkeley Arts & Letters presents Hugh Sinclair in conversation with Rose Aguilar:

This is the true story of a young IESE Business School grad who joined the burgeoning microfinance industry in the early 2000s with the intention of doing good in the world. Over the course of the following decade, he would discover vast global networks of corruption, cover-ups, and countless betrayals of the poor in what had grown into a $70 billion sector. His attempts at exposing wrongdoing would result in death threats, aggressive and personal retaliations, and legal action -- after all, the first rule of microfinance is don't criticize microfinance. Part memoir, part financial detective story, and part exposé, these are the Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic.

Hugh Sinclair traveled to several continents while working for numerous banks, agencies, and institutions and saw microfinance from the ground up. He soon realized that the heart-warming stories presented on sites like Kiva and Grameen Foundation were anything but commonplace in microfinance sectors. When his efforts to bring his findings to senior executives were thwarted, Sinclair became an anonymous source for The New York Times, providing information for a story that covered a wide scope of microfinance misdeeds.

But such reports only scratch the surface. Sinclair reveals the devastating dark side of this feel-good industry: rampant corruption, exorbitant interest rates, and microloans leading to fraud, child labor, prostitution, and even suicide. Much of his book centers on the scandal Sinclair uncovered involving the Nigerian nonprofit LAPO and its dealings with industry darlings Kiva, Grameen Foundation and Triple Jump. However, other key players such as Deutsche Bank, Citibank, SKS, ACCION, Grameen Bank, Blue Orchard, Calvert Foundation, and Compartamos make appearances. There are many people who do not want this story told  some of them have already intimated as much in no uncertain terms to the author.

Sinclair doesn't just criticize and expose the industry but recommends how to fix it -- because he has seen that microfinance can work and so lays out the conditions necessary for its success. The question is: will anyone listen?

Hugh Sinclair has worked in microfinance with numerous global organizations, banks and funds for over a decade. He currently consults on microfinance strategy and portfolio management. Previously, he worked in traditional finance at ING Barings, CDC Capital Partners, and BZW Securities -- now Barclays Capital. Hugh holds a Master's degree in International and Corporate Finance from the University of Durham and an MBA from IESE Business School.

Among his accomplishments are being the first to deliver a Harvard Business case study in Mongolian and achieving the Guinness World Record for the fastest motorcycle tour from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the tip of South America. He speaks frequently at business schools and microfinance conferences.

Joining Hugh Sinclair in conversation is Rose Aguilar, the superb host of Your Call, a call-in show airing weekdays from 10-11am on KALW 91.7 FM. Your Call focuses on politics, social issues, the environment, and the arts. Rose writes for Al Jazeera English and Truthout, and provides a weekly commentary about undercovered activism for KPFK's Uprising. She's author of Red Highways: A Liberal's Journey into the Heartland.

Note: ticket prices listed are for tickets purchased in advance ONLY. Tickets at the door $15, if space is available.

Tuesday, July 24
Hillside Club (2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley)

Tickets $12 ($6 students, OLLI, and Hillside members) in advance only at Brown Paper Tickets online or 800-838-3006; $15 at the door (all)


Hillside Club (View)
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States


Arts > Literary
Education > Business
Other > Charity
Other > Political

Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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