"Demonstrating 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.
Similarly, 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.
But creating 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.