Resource: Banker to the Poor

bankertothepoor

I remember well the first time I read this book so many years ago. I’ve never personally started a micro-lending initiative – I have provided seed money to a few – but this book was explosive in its effect on me. Maybe for the first time I saw how small efforts can lead to big impacts. We tend to think if we can’t go big we should just stay home. But all of us can contribute to better lives. The cumulative effects of lots of small efforts could be huge. I encourage you to read this book. Then act small while you dream big.

Muhammad Yunus is that rare thing: a bona fide visionary. His dream is the total eradication of poverty from the world. In 1983, against the advice of banking and government officials, Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans. Grameen Bank, based on the belief that credit is a basic human right, not the privilege of a fortunate few, now provides over 2.5 billion dollars of micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh. Ninety-four percent of Yunus’s clients are women, and repayment rates are near 100 percent. Around the world, micro-lending programs inspired by Grameen are blossoming, with more than three hundred programs established in the United States alone.

Banker to the Poor is Muhammad Yunus’s memoir of how he decided to change his life in order to help the world’s poor. In it he traces the intellectual and spiritual journey that led him to fundamentally rethink the economic relationship between rich and poor, and the challenges he and his colleagues faced in founding Grameen. He also provides wise, hopeful guidance for anyone who would like to join him in “putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long.