Hats off to Prof. Yunus

This morning was simply incredible. In fact last evening too was good for me. It was rare to have an interaction with person like Nobel laureate from Bangladesh Muhammad Yusuf. To know his work and the results that it has borne were all fascinating. On his two-day-long tour to the city, Yunus made many his fans.

Prof. Yunus in all his humbleness described how he managed to bring down Desh’s poverty by 2 % every year. Denied of loan from Central Bank of Bangladesh, this man formed his own Grameen Bank. The motive was to help poor people or rather woman. And the help was by way of micro-finance, which includes lending money and helping that female borrower to start her business so that she would stand on her feet.

And as the work began to unfurl, Grameen bank set some standards. The poorer the person is, more deserving h/she will be for a loan. Also, there won’t be collateral, guarantor or even signing of papers to borrow money.

This was, as professor told us a bunch of reporters, right reverse to the conventional bank. Indeed conventional bank’s first task is to check the financial condition of borrower. And even if you are sound enough to repay the loan, they will make you sign hundreds of papers and ask for guarantor.

But Yunus didn’t ’t just stop here. His bank then began lending money to beggars. And soon one lakh beggars took benefit for this. Today, as Prof. Yunus went on to say, ten thousand beggars have completely abstained begging. Rest ninety thousand have taken begging as part time job with remaining time they utilize in doing small-time business. Another interesting thing in the Grameen Bank’s working system is, it has never waived off any loan. Contrary, if a person has been unable to repay money, Grameen Bank will further give him/her money so that he/she can start her business afresh.

(When I asked Prof. Yunus if loan waiver can be a measure to arrest farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha, his reply, though not India specific, was it can just be a quick fix but not a permanent solution.)

Here while Yunus was recalling his journey towards eliminating poverty, a thought came in my and I am sure everybody’s mind. What must could have been a driving force between Grameen bank, which borrow money without any legalities and poor people of Bangladesh repay it without any reluctance.

As Prof. Yunus proceed, we came to know the fundamentals on which Grameen bank and its customers do business is Trust.

And the driving force behind building that trust is a subtle fear in the mind of people who feel if they don’t repay the money it would be a breach of trust. And then, their ‘Allah’ will not forgive them for such breach of trust.

As the interaction ended, a friend of mine whispered, why doesn't this fellow take on a global task and join institution like World Bank for the welfare of the world. The answer that came was if he joins World Bank, poor would become poorer.

The punch between-the-lines is “World Bank works for rich people and reach countries”.

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