Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crooks in the name of Islam

As I was thinking of a good name for the RoSCA management and insurance scheme that I wanted to propose for Islamic microfinance, I thought of the name بنك القرية (the village bank). I was extremely depressed when I googled that term, and ran across this article about embezzlement of funds. So, I stopped writing this string of posts. Then, yesterday, I was watching an Egyptian television show on Dream Channel, which covered another wave of شركات توظيف الأموال (fund mobilization companies, similar to the ones that were popular in the 1980s when real interest rates in Egypt became significantly negative). The show discussed a recent case with the wrinkle that marketing was done by the son of the Egyptian Minister of Economic Growth. We all know about the pyramid schemes in the 1980s under the same banner of "Islamic finance".

What is it about this industry that invites snake oil salesmen in religious garb?

Maybe it was a mistake even to contemplate doing research in this field. One should stay away from the snake oil salesmen lest one's reputation and religion be compromised.