From Two Cents a Day to Earning a Living
A Bangladeshi woman who skillfully made beautiful stools lived her life in dire poverty, making only two cents a day. Why? Because she had no money to buy bamboo and was forced to borrow from a money-lender who demanded she sell her finished stools back to him at a price that was so low that two cents profit was all she could manage.
This is what she explained to Muhammad Yunus, a U.S.-trained economist who wandered around the local village asking people what lay behind their plight. He wondered why the economic theories he had studied at Vanderbilt weren’t working in Bangladesh.
When he asked the skilled stool maker if she could earn more if she were freed from the moneylender, she said, “Yes I can.” Finding other villagers in the same dilemma, Professor Yunus gathered 42 people who needed a mere 68 cents each to pay-off their moneylenders, buy materials, and begin selling their wares to the highest bidder.
With this small loan profits soared from two cents to $1.25 a day, which in Bangladesh was enough to pull the villagers out of dire poverty. And so began what we now call microfinance and Grameen or “Village” bank.
Grameen does business the reverse of custom. Most banks lend to the rich but Grameen lends to the poor, most banks lend to men but Grameen lends to women, most banks lend to the literate but Grameen lends to the non-literate, most banks make big loans but Grameen makes small ones, and while most banks require collateral, Grameen does not.
Today Grameen Bank has lifted millions of people out of poverty, serving more than 100 million of the world’s poorest families. And Muhammad Yunus has won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Posted on December 23, 2011, in feminism, gender, sexism, women and tagged feminism, gender, Grameen Bank, microcredit, microfinance, Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.