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Bank of the Villages Bank of the Villages
by Ergo te Lina
2006-10-25 09:57:49
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"Women are very cautious with the use of the money, but the men were impatient; they wanted to enjoy it right away. They will entertain friends, they will go to the movies, they will do whatever they could to enjoy for themselves personally. But women didn't look at it personally," explains Mouhammad Yunus, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, "Women looked at it for the children, for the family and so on, and for the future."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee divided the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 between Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

Mouhammad Yunus aroused an astonishing silent revolution that touches upon the fate of millions of humans and incites the interest of economists and politicians all over the world. His bank, Grameen (literally "Bank of the Villages"), lends money to the most deprived persons, to those that nobody provides a guarantee for repaying their debts - neither by their family nor by their goods - and have been rejected completely by the traditional institutions, while a minimal loan gives again the courage and the dignity so that they reconstruct their life.

The 65-year-old economist said he would use part of his share of the $1.4 million award to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh, he said.

Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and gained its independence in 1971 through the Liberation War. It suffers from annual monsoon floods (the recent tsunami) and has one the fastest growing populations in the world (141,822,300 people live across a mere 143,998 km²). The Capital City is Dhaka.

Some traditionalists in largely Muslim Bangladesh have criticized the bank because it gives women more power in family relationships by making them the primary moneymakers and encourages contact with men outside their immediate families. Yunus has said that dealing directly with women is critical to making real change in rural society and over 96 percent of Grameen's borrowers are women, many of whom are illiterate.

Today, the success of Yunus method is spectacular not only in his country, where more than 10% of population profits from micro-credits (overwhelming majority are women) - with rate of repaying above 90% -, but also in other 57 nations, as USA, China, South Africa and France. A lot of organisms in entire the world are inspired by his idea and its develop.

The women in the Norwegian archipelago Lofoten, north of the Arctic Circle, were informed about Yunus and his Grameen Bank. In the '90s, the fish catches had been decreased considerably and the places of work in the industry of fish too. The banks did not give them loans in order to begin their own enterprises, such as textile workshops or manufacturing, because the bank judged either the guarantees insufficient or the loans too small. Then the women of Lofoten learned about the bank Grameen and they called Yunus to explain to them his "system". So it was created in the islands Lofoten the KVINNENBANKEN, the Bank of Women, and from there it was extended in entire rich Norway.

Today, 60 teams of women manage "shops of" bank equal in number. The Grameen created faculty and is represented, with various forms, in 50 countries of the Third World and West. His Norwegian friends were glad for the Nobel Prize. Yunus writes in the "Mont" that he has a dream for the "right in the credit" to be included in human rights, especially for those of women.

The autobiography of this unique human, whose activity and his thought exceeded economic, political and religious biases and achieved to create his dream. In order to overcome the poverty we need not only giant plans, we should also help the first ring of economic chain: the person - and revive his hope.



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