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  • Banker to the Poor (Yunus)

    Posted on 12th September 2014 by Global Health Gateway in

    Banker to the Poor, is a classic book by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize-winning founder of the Grameen Bank, and tells the thought-provoking story of what microfinance can do for poor families, communities and the world.  Read Melinda’s review below, then browse more Books and Films.

    First published in 1999, Banker to the Poor is not a new book, but it is an important book.  Written by Muhammad Yunus, it tells the story of the origins of the Grameen Bank, the micro-lending initiative that was started by Yunus in 1976 in Bangladesh and has gone on to encourage micro-financing worldwide. 

    Yunus was an economics professor in 1970s in Bangladesh.  Faced with the reality of Bangladesh in a period of famine, Yunus commented ‘what good were all my complex theories when people were dying of starvation on the sidewalks and porches across from my lecture hall?’  He decided to change his university course and teach students ‘how to understand the life of one single poor person’. 

    Yunus was mortified that ‘problems of life and death were posed in terms of pennies’. So he lent 42 people a total of $27 between them as a loan to repay without interest to build their trades.  This was the beginning of the Grameen Bank.

    It is a fascinating story of someone like all of us.  Someone who felt disenchanted with his position in the world, who was angry at the suffering and poverty that he saw and the divide within society.  But Yunus is a remarkable human being because he channelled this anger and disillusionment into something successful that has literally changed the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh and now, throughout the world. 

    I would recommend this story to anyone.  It is not filled with difficult economics, it isn’t burdened by the intricacies of starting a business.  It is the tale of man with a vision: the elimination of poverty.   Yunus imagines a world where our children learn about poverty from history books because it no longer exists.  Perhaps if more people read about Grameen Bank we would get that little step closer to it becoming a reality, and not just a dream.