Feb 162011

I was recently reading Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the battle against world poverty by Muhammad Yunus. It is the biography of the creation of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

I didn’t realize it was a biography when I picked it up; I apparently never looked at the spine where my local library had placed a biography sticker. I don’t usually read biographies, but I found this book very interesting. I was particularly intrigued by the first half of the book, the very beginning of the creation of the Grameen Bank.

The later half of the book was harder to follow as related, child and parent companies were founded and explained. I skipped a few overly detailed paragraphs as I wasn’t that interested, and they just confused me.

But the stories of the borrowers really intrigued me. I think I’ll find and read Give Us Credit by Alex Counts, which is about the founding of the Grameen Bank, and is filled with stories of the borrowers. I was amazed at the resiliency and resourcefulness of the women who became borrowers. They have so many ideas of how to improve their lives, and their families’ lives, and it usually only requires a bit of upfront capital. Their lives are transformed by being able to access credit without needing collateral, and the amounts are paltry by Western standards. The original loans given out totalled $27, and that was spread over 42 people! That’s less than $1 a person! What could you do with a $1?

The book really made me think about poverty, which is not something I usually think about. I think I’ll take the lesson and reduce my complaining about not having any extra money. At least I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and the security of a full-time job that is unlikely to disappear tomorrow. And I will try to remember my gratititude for these things and donate money to causes like this occasionally.

Rating: 3/5
Source: Local library

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