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Muhammad Yunus with Alan Jolis: Banker to the Poor, Aurun Press 2003

Muhammad Yunus with Alan Jolis: Banker to the Poor, Aurun Press 2003


An inspiring story of one of the most uplifting cases of systems intervention of our times, the history of the emergence of the microloan concept that the Bangladeshian economist Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the 2006 Peace Prize, intiated and created.

Yunus describes a milestone encounter he had in 1976 in the village of Jobra, next tot he university campus in which Yunus was serving as a professor.

"´That is what you earn from a whole day´s work, 50 paisa? Eight anna?´

´Yes, on a good day.´

Sufia Begum, 21, was a poor woman making bamboo stools. "She earned the equivalent of 2 US cents a day and it was this knowledge which paralyzed me."

Working hard, Sufia Begum still does not have the money to buy for the bamboo. Thus she is obliged to sell back the stool to the trader that sold her the bamboo at a 2 US cents compensation for her for the work, keeping her in a cycle from which there is no escape.

"She suffered because the cost of the bamboo was 5 taka and she didn't have the necessary cash. Her life was miserable because she could survive only in that tight cycle - borrowing from the trader and selling back to him. She could not break free of that circle." (p. 9-10)

In the village there were 42 women in a similar situation. "They were poor because the financial structures which could help them widen their economic base simply did not exist in their country. It was a structural problem, not a personal problem." (p. 11)

So Yunus decided to give a loan to all the women preparing bamboo stools, 27 US dollars in all.

"That was the beginning of it all. I was not trying to become a money-lender. I had no intention of lending money to anyone; all I really wanted to solve was an immediate problem."

At this writing, the total number of borrowers is 6.91 million, 97 per cent of them are women.

 

Kirjoitti Esa Saarinen, 11.02.2007

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