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Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the…

Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (1999)

by Muhammad Yunus

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    The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz (espertus)
    espertus: Both are inspiring accounts of the growth of organizations that harness market forces to empower impoverished people to improve their own lives.

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I absolutely loved this book! It was great seeing how Yunus worked with the women in need. I'd recommend it to anyone, especially those interested in business/banking. ( )
  tannerl | May 13, 2014 |
Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus describes how he founded the Grameen Bank and launched the whole micro lending concept. His description of poverty makes it so evident how fortunate we are in the US. Very inspirational! ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
this is a great book for people who don't want to be bogged down by economic jargon. while there are certainly technical terms in the book, they're relatively few & far between, and yunus manages to keep things anecdotal for the most part. most importantly, it focuses on and drives home inequalities such as the 80%-20% paradox (which is now closer to 90%-10%). ( )
  cat-ballou | Apr 2, 2013 |
This book was incredibly interesting and really made me question a lot of the concepts and policies I'm learning in my macroeconomics class. It also gave me hope. It's the [true] story of the Grameen bank, which caters specifically to the most impoverished people in the world, and how the bank grew from the author lending $27 to people in his town to a million / billion dollar corporation. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to truly help the needy and destitute, anyone who feels like reading a smart book, or anyone who's interested in economics. The only critisism I have would be that the last few chapters sound a little bit communist-like to me, but that's probably just because I'm not a fan of utopianism, but Yunus is. I wanted him to be right about the final chapters, though. ( )
  LCoale1 | Jan 11, 2012 |
How to Eliminate Poverty

This weekend I attended the Bottom Billions | Bottom Line Conference hosted by Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Integrity in Business. The event served as a convergence zone between business, nonprofit organizations, and the academy seeking to better understand ways that business can help alleviate world poverty.

Of the many interesting subjects discussed at the conference, the topic of microfinance seemed to continuously echo through my head. For those unfamiliar with the term, microfinance occurs when banks or nonprofit organizations loan small amounts to the poor, helping them to use these miniscule amounts of capital to begin income-generating endeavors.

Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and author of Banker to the Poor, observed that the only thing the poor lacked was opportunity.

He writes,

“When you hold the world in your palm and inspect it only from a bird’s eye view, you tend to become arrogant – you do not realize that things get blurred when seen from an enormous distance. I opted instead for “the worm’s eye view.” I hoped that if I studied poverty at close range, I would understand it more keenly.”

Charity vs. Microfinance

Without capital, the poor would take a loan from a moneylender at exorbitant rates in order to partake in the economy. At the end of the day, these people took home pennies to support a family. Yunus figured that if he could loan these slight sums at low interest rates, the poor could enjoy selling the products of their labor on the open market, thus creating economic capital and a trail out of poverty.

Charity, on the other hand, gives freely without expectation of return. Many, though, have suggested that pure charity does not eradicate poverty, because the poor become dependent on receiving aid. Blogger Filip Spagnoli aggregates international development aid on his website. The evidence he has compiled suggests that the amount of aid contributed to these developing nations is staggering, and yet economic growth is not a result.

Would development function differently if aid came in the form of a loan instead of charity? Yunus believes that loans to the poor provide the best investment. Many stuck in the cycle of poverty are smart and hardworking; they just need the money to start. While big banks typically consider micro-loans to be both risky and inconsequential, Yunus’ experience argues that the poor possess the highest incentive to repay their loans.

Of course, when unforeseen problems such as natural disasters and economic meltdowns place the poor in positions where they are unable to repay the loan, Yunus extends grace and loans more money to help the poor back on their feet. In this way, microlending encourages entrepreneurial spirit. Where charity gives the widow a fish, microfinance engages in teaching the widow to fish.

What Is the Best Thing?

Although charitable giving in and of itself is never a bad thing, I do wonder if it is the best thing. Of course, a free gift without expectation of repayment carries the highest blessing for the receiver, yet long term, I wonder if microloans create a better society. Certainly, charity is necessary for the destitute – the people who are so poor that any money loaned would be used to keep them from dying. Yet, the moderately poor need a kick start and microlending seems to be the best option in alleviating these struggles.

Yunus writes Banker to the Poor in an autobiographical tone. He tries his best to position the book as a personal success story in the ongoing battle against poverty. It certainly seems like his position could and should be implemented worldwide, yet Yunus writes with a touch of humility. If you are interested in ways to eradicate poverty outside of giving to your favorite nonprofit, I suggest that you read this book.

Originally published at http://wherepenmeetspaper.blogspot.com/ ( )
  lemurfarmer | Apr 12, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195795377, Hardcover)

This book is an autobiographical account of the founder of the Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus. This work is a fundamental rethinking of the economic relationship between the rich and the poor, as well as their rights and obligations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Yunus traces the journey that led him to rethink the economic relationship between rich and poor and recounts the challenges he faced in founding Grameen. He provides wise, hopeful guidance for anyone who would like to join him in the burgeoning world movement of micro-lending to eradicate world poverty.… (more)

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