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Microfinance Unscathed by
Financial Crisis: Professor Yunus

The financial crisis has not hit the microfinance system, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad said Thursday, as he called for tougher regulations to prevent such shocks in future.

"One good news in the middle of all these bad news: microfinance still works. Not hit by the meltdown process," Yunus said at the sidelines of an International Labour Organization symposium on microfinance.

Yunus, nicknamed the "Banker to the Poor", won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for helping millions escape poverty through so-called "micro-credit" financing projects which enable people without collateral or steady income to get small loans.

Jean Zwahlen, who chaired the symposium, also shared Yunus' optimism about microfinance, saying that it would "show its resilience" in the face of the financial crisis.
But Yunus warned that a global economic slowdown would "affect the lives of the poor people much more" than others.

He described the current financial crisis as a "failure from all sides" and said regulations were required to prevent future crises.

"This is what is missing, " he said. "This is a failure of the market itself."


Rahul Gandhi Visits Grameen

Mr. Rahul Gandhi visited Bangladesh from August 1 - 5, 2008, at the invitation of Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad. This was the first visit to Bangladesh for the prominent member of the Nehru-Gandhi family. During his stay, Mr. Rahul Gandhi visited the field activities of Grameen Bank and other sister organizations, met Grameen borrowers, Grameen scholarship winners, and exchanged views with selected leaders of Grameen sister organizations. Grameen Bank also hosted a special reception in his honor. He was very open, modest and friendly to all.

Mr. Rahul Gandhi went to the Shingair Branch of Madhobpur on August 3, 2008, to observe Grameen activities in the field. After attending the center meeting, he had open discussions with the Grameen members. The borrowers explained to Mr. Gandhi how they had lifted their families out of poverty after receiving microcredit from Grameen Bank. He also met with struggling (beggar) members of Grameen Bank, as well as education loan recipients. He visited a Pre-School of Grameen Shikkha (Grameen Education), a Grameen Kalyan's (Grameen Welfare) Health Clinic and a Grameen Technology Center run by Grameen Shakti.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi was very impressed with the impact of Grameen microcredit program in Bangladesh. It is of note that his family has been involved in various microcredit projects in Amethi (Uttar Pradesh) and Rae Bareilly, the parliamentary constituencies of Mr. Gandhi, and his mother Ms. Sonia Gandhi respectively. This visit was labeled as a "learning trip" for Mr. Gandhi, who is keen to implement Grameen type programs throughout his country.

Report by Mandana Mahdukht Ali