Reading "Banker to the Poor" for the First Time

February 24, 2011
by Ilana Seff, RESULTS Global Intern

I’m about to have a moment of honest disclosure. When I started interning at RESULTS, I didn’t exactly know the “ins and outs” of microfinance. Sure, I kept up with the news stories and I knew who Muhammad Yunus was, but global health was more my area of expertise. Well, that all changed when my amazing mentor Crickett gave me a copy of Yunus’ book Banker to the Poor. Thinking it would be a dry, boring read, I began it tentatively that evening while waiting for the Metro. Let’s just say I began to look forward to every spare minute in my day when I could stick my nose in that book.

A detailed account of Yunus’ brilliant ideas, the creation and growth of Grameen Bank, and the endless criticism from political opponents, “Banker to the Poor” is both educational and touching. Distraught by the extreme poverty of his native Bangladesh, Yunus used his innovative views on economics to create a sustainable system for change, rather than merely handing out some cash on the spot. He put his faith in people who were ignored by the government and the banks, and his faith paid off, figuratively and literally. Ninety-five percent of borrowers of Grameen Bank repay their loans with interest and go on to earn enough money to afford health services, feed their children, and build a roof over their heads.

In the midst of the accusations against Yunus, it has been refreshing and insightful to hear his side of the story. I encourage you to do the same. Check out the book’s website.

And be on the lookout for the launch of the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s 2010 State of the Campaign Report. Yunus will be in DC to help celebrate the launch!

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