Stories by Katie Arnold in Myanmar

Myanmar’s poor crippled by debt to loan sharks

Brothers 13-year-old Aung Thet Paing (left) and 10-year-old San Lynn Aung (right) no longer attend school. Instead, they spend their days collecting rubbish to help pay off their family’s debts.

In Myanmar’s poorest neighborhoods, 85% of households borrow money from loan sharks just to survive.

Why it matters: The loans can rescue families from an immediate financial emergency, but with interest rates as high as 50% a month, borrowers are trapped in an ever-growing cycle of debt. Many struggle to make their repayments and send their children out to work.