Ending Global Poverty
published: May 21, 2010, recorded: March 2005, views: 4120
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Imagine a bank that loans money based on a borrower’s desperate circumstances -- where, as Muhammad Yunus says, “the less you have, the higher priority you have.” Turning banking convention on its head has accomplished a world of good for millions of impoverished Bangladeshis, as the pioneering economist Yunus has demonstrated in the last three decades. What began as a modest academic experiment has become a personal crusade to end poverty. Yunus reminds us that for two-thirds of the world’s population, “financial institutions do not exist.” Yet, “we’ve created a world which goes around with money. If you don’t have the first dollar, you can’t catch the next dollar.” It was Yunus’ notion, in the face of harsh skepticism, to give the poorest of the poor their first dollar so they could become self-supporting. “We’re not talking about people who don’t know what to do with their lives….They’re as good, enterprising, as smart as anybody else.” His Grameen Bank spread from village to village as a lender of tiny amounts of money (microcredit), primarily to women. Yunus heard that “all women can do is raise chickens, or cows or make baskets. I said, ‘Don’t underestimate the talent of human beings.’ ” No collateral is required, nor paperwork—just an effort to make good and pay back the loan. Now the bank boasts 5 million borrowers, receiving half a billion dollars a year. It has branched out into student loans, health care coverage, and into other countries. Grameen has even created a mobile phone company to bring cell phones to Bangladeshi villages. Yunus envisions microcredit building a society where even poor people can open “the gift they have inside of them.”
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