I’m Alex Villarreal with the VOA Special English Economics Report, from voaspecialenglish.com | http Microfinance is a fast-growing part of the financial industry in many developing countries. Micro lenders give small loans to poor people to start or expand businesses. Microcredit offers a chance to improve lives and reduce poverty. But officials in Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, are investigating whether debt collections are linked to a series of suicides among borrowers. Reddi Subrahmanyam is a rural development official in that state. He says many of these deaths happened immediately after the recovery agents of the microfinance institutions either visited the house or did something insulting.Reports of corruption and abuses have led to emergency measures in Andhra Pradesh to ban some collection methods. These rules also aim to limit costly fees and high interest rates on loans. The Asian Development Bank says microfinance institutions in the Asia-Pacific area charge interest of thirty to seventy percent a year. Charges can be even higher when other costs are added. But micro lenders also face higher operating costs compared to traditional lenders. Groups like the Asian Development Bank oppose limits on interest rates because of these high business costs.Economist Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in two thousand six for his work with microfinance. In the nineteen seventies he started what became the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Grameen says it charges twenty

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