how the Grameen experience has been successfully replicated
in cultures and countries as varied as the US, Finland, Bolivia,
the Philippines and South Africa, Yunus recounts one of his
earlier visits to the U.S. When US President Bill Clinton
was governor of Arkansas, he became interested in the Grameen
model and invited Yunus to set up a similar bank for small
businesses in Arkansas. But it soon became evident to Yunus
that his definition of the poor was very different from that
of his hosts. Not one to give up easily though, he went about
locating people on welfare, pursuing them till they were enthused
enough about the Good Faith Bank as it ended up being called
and setting up an exact replica of Grameen Bank right in the
heart of the largest capitalist power. As Yunus explains the
poor wherever they may be are united by the same sense of
deprivation, the same desires and the same sense of self-respect.
Yunus talks of encountering the same prejudices against the
poor as he did in Bangladesh: the poor cannot be trusted,
lending without collateral is risky for a bank, the poor need
training to become entrepreneurs or the poor will not use
the loan responsibly. Yet wherever the model has been replicated,
he adds proudly, the repayment rate has been over 90 percent.
an enabling environment for small-scale enterprises is only
one aspect of the changes wrought by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
With economic empowerment, comes political and social consciousness.
Citing the example of the 1996 general elections, Yunus shows
how political awareness among Grameen clients (the majority
of whom are women) led to a greater turnout by women voters,
resulting in the religious parties losing 14 parliamentary
seats. Yunus also claims that Grameen clients who have risen
above the poverty level are more likely to practise family
planning and send their children to school".
Extracted from a review of Banker to the Poor An Autobiography
of Muhammed Yunus,
by Zohra Yusuf, the Herald.