Banker to the Poor – Micro-Lending And the Battle against World Poverty
It is a memoir of Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh who developed and implemented the concept of Micro-finance (micro-credit, micro-lending) as a way to eliminate poverty. He is now a world celebrity wining many prestigious awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He is the founder of the Grameen Bank and other supporting organization bearing the name “Grameen”.
His effort s can best be summarized by this favorite quote “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you feed him for life”.
He was a professor of Economics at Chittagong University in Bangladesh. He realized that the women of Bangladesh were really the poorest of the poor and they needed some help to first survive and then to lift themselves up from the shackles of poverty. Most of the institutional programs of helping the poor consist of giving them some type of training and then for them to get a job using the newly acquired skill. But it does not work. He discovered that the key problem these people have is that they don’t have access to money. If they need some money, they go to the local money lender and he gives them a loan at very high rates. They can never repay the loan and the money lender basically owns them.
It will take many paragraphs to explain his philosophy and how he created Grameen Bank and why it was (is) successful. It was not easy. Even the borrowers did not trust him initially and, of course, the village elders and most men opposed him. But he persisted almost like Gandhi Ji and started getting some results. He has spread his micro-finance to other countries also – even the USA. He became a good friend to Clintons and helped some very poor in Arkansas to form a Grameen like bank. In an Illinois based work, they used the name Full Circle Fund…
Anyway, it is a serious non-fiction book on a topic that many will not be interested. But I found it very useful. It seems that at the present time (2013), Dr. Yunus seems to be having some trouble with the government of Bangladesh. He is being accused of many wrong doing. I am sure these are politically motivated. On the other hand, Dr. Yunus who is 73 years old, may want to give up some control and let others do what they want to do. After all, he will not live forever.