Talk looks at serious issues of microcredit in South Africa

Market vendor in South Africa

Milford Bateman, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, will discuss the recent issues with microcredit initiatives in South Africa, including the collapse of the largest microcredit bank, at a talk Wednesday at York.

Bateman will deliver the African Studies John Saul Seminar, “Explaining South Africa’s Microcredit-driven Disaster and the Lessons for Africa as a Whole” as part of the Development Studies Seminar series. The seminar will take place Oct. 8, from 2:30 to 4pm, at 701S Ross Building, Keele campus. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Milford Bateman
Milford Bateman

Bateman, who is a freelance consultant on local economic development policy, did consulting work for South African government in May, tasked with identifying alternative local financial institutions to microfinance, given the problems they were having with the microcredit model.

In August, not long after Bateman’s visit to the country, the largest microcredit bank in South Africa – African Bank – collapsed and the South African government stepped in to rescue private shareholders to the tune of about $1.6 billion, a major investment for a government already in very serious financial difficulties.

Bateman will address these latest developments in South Africa, highlighting the problems of microfinance-driven interventions, their implications for Africa and for the global south in general.

Bateman has been Visiting Professor of Economics at Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, Croatia, since 2005, before returning to Saint Mary’s University. He taught East European economics at the University of Wolverhampton. He was one of the most active university-based policy consultants to the international development community, advising on many aspects of local economic and social development policy in post-communist and post-conflict economies.

In 2000, Bateman moved fully into the private sector to head up the Western Balkans economic development consulting practice for one of the major United Kingdom-based consulting companies, subsequently taking the lead on local economic and social development policy and program design and evaluation assignments right across the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.

More recently, he was as a freelance consultant in the Middle East, China, South Africa and Latin America, particularly in Colombia. He has published widely on issues of local economic and social development through several edited books on entrepreneurship and SME development, and a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He is the author of the modestly best-selling book Why Doesn’t Microfinance Work? The Destructive Rise of Local Neoliberalism (Zed Books, 2010). His latest work is a co-edited book with Kate Maclean, entitled Seduced and Betrayed: Exposing the Contemporary Microfinance Phenomenon, due out with SAR Press in early 2015.

The African Studies John Saul Seminar is presented by the International Development Studies program, the Graduate Program in Development Studies and the Department of Social Science in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.