Success that takes society into account

January 19, 2008 | By | Reply More

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus founded a bank that has helped 7.5 million beggars and borrowers escape  Yunusabject poverty in his native Bangladesh.Speaking to about 1800 people this week, he encouraged them to do what they could to change the world by using business techniques to solve everything from poverty to pollution.

“We can create a world where there will be no poor persons at all,” Yunus told students, non- profit organisers and members of the Bangladesh- American Society of Greater Houston.

Yunus recently wrote Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. In it he suggests that people create businesses with a societal motive, offering health insurance, cheque-cashing services or bank accounts for the poor, for example.

He envisions investors recouping their investment, but instead of focusing on profits, their goal would be to fix societal and environmental ills.

Yunus began working with the impoverished more than three decades ago when he borrowed money from a Bangladeshi bank and, in turn, loaned that money to villagers because the poor did not qualify for loans.

In 1983, he launched the Grameen Bank, or “village bank”, considered the pioneer of micro- credit. The bank now has 7.5 million borrowers in Bangladesh who take out money for small businesses, an education or home loans, which are repaid with interest.

The bank also runs a programme for beggars, who borrow an average of 15 interest-free to sell wares from door to door.

The model of lending small sums to the working poor has been duplicated across the globe by for- profit and non-profit organisations. That global success of micro-loans helped lead to Yunus and the Grameen Bank winning the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, but the movement has its critics.

“The biggest myth about this is that it goes to start a business,” said Thomas Dichter, the co- editor of What’s Wrong With Microfinance?

Borrowers use the money to survive, by earning a few pennies a day, selling bags of rice or cups of tea, he said.

“Let’s not make the mistake that these are mini- entrepreneurs or future Bill Gateses,” the international development consultant added. “They are not. “They are just trying to get by.”

But Yunus pointed out that 64% of the bank’s clients who have borrowed from Grameen for five years or more “have crossed the poverty line”.

“Micro-credit alone does not solve the problem of poverty,” he conceded before adding: “Micro- credit is a tool to get out of poverty.”

Source: The New York Times

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Category: Knowledge for Development

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  1. Shahid Ullah says:

    Road is not a private property

    Road is not a private property. There are no rules and regulations regarding entrance of private car in Dhaka city; any body who has money can purchase a car and start riding taking just a license. According to urban planners, there should have at least 25% area for roads in a city, and there is only 6-7% area for roads in Dhaka city. Every day there are new cars entering in the city street making huge jam and increasing sufferings for the mass people to reach the office/factory at just time and also to return home peacefully after finishing the task and duties. And everyday we are loosing 3-4 hours of our valuable time causing thousands of corers of taka

    According to study of transport planners, a private care occupies the road where five people can travel by bi-cycle, four people by rickshaw, and only one and half people by private car.

    Using natural gas and fuel for private car is a crime as it increases global warming.

    Almost there is a relation between ownership of private car and corruption. It is a shame that our previous governments exempted tax to import luxury cars.

    Transportation is a big punishment for innocent employees, workers and petty traders.

    It’s a social problem and solution should be collective and social, not individual.

    Government is providing 3000 crore taka as subsidy for petrol/fuel supply and the private car owners are taking advantage of it. They are also using important CNG; which could be used for industrial purpose and public transport. These private car owners are contributing noise and pollution to urban life.

    Without controlling private car, it is not possible to reduce traffic jam through constructing new roads or modernizing traffic system. London, Singapore, Hon Kong and Tokyo city reduced traffic jam through controlling private car.

    Please raise your voice and make solidarity with the following demands through circulating this mail to your friends:
    Stopping subsidized fuel and gas to private car owners
    There should have at least one lac taka environment tax on a private car and gradually making Dhaka city free of private car
    There should have government policy about the car of organization/ institution i.e who can purchase car, but organization/ institute should be under the environment tax net
    Introducing more double decker bus at every route
    Separate track for bi-cycle in every road
    Encourage riding bi-cycle for all students of school, college and university, teachers and parents should come forward
    Government should establish quality cycle industry in Bangladesh and discourage importing bi-cycle

    Campaign for Sustainable Transportation System

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