Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Banker To The Poor - A book review

The book Banker To The Poor by Muhammad Yunus, a Professor of Economics in Bangladesh shatters several myths surrounding the principles of banking. Yunus has dedicated his life to make his vision a reality. With unstinted commitment to his vision, he has made the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh improve their economic status through micro-credit. Started in 1983, Grameen Bank established on the principle of credit as a basic human right and the concept of collateral to a loan favours only a few privileged, the bank now disburses 2.5 billion dollars of micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh. Ninety-four percent of the clients are women and repayment rates are near 100 percent. Around the world, micro-lending programs inspired by Grameen are blossoming, with more than three hundred programs established in the United States alone.

Muhammad Yunus also exposes the International Donor Institutions way of functioning and how they only feed the International consultants, suppliers and donor agency officials. The book is also Muhammad Yunus's memoir of his life from childhood to adulthood and how he decided to change his life in order to help the poor and the challenges he has faced in establishing Grameen Bank. He practically dispelled the myths associated with giving credit to the poor. The commercial banks always insist on collateral and suspicious that poor will not repay and so do not extend loans. Truth is the reverse. It is the rich who cheat the banks by not repaying loans claiming their industrial units have become sick. This also very well applies to India where 40 billion USD was written off by National banks as bad debts by industrial units. For Muhammad Yunus, it is a crusade in "putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long." The definitive history of micro-credit direct from the man that conceived of it, Banker to the Poor is necessary and inspirational reading for anyone interested in economics, public policy, philanthropy, social history, and business. And above all to understand poverty and how the Poor desperately want to come out of it to have Roti, Kapada, Makan ( Food, Clothing and House) all 365 days.

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