It's heartwarming to see the Nobel Peace Prize this year go to someone who
really deserves it: Bangladesh economist Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the
use of "microcredit" lending that has done more good for more poor people in
Bangladesh, India, and increasingly elsewhere in the poor parts of the world
than the entire World Bank over its entire history.
Read about it here:
His idea was that small amounts lent to women in the poorest neighborhoods
would provide them with enough capital to just get a leg up - buy a spinning
wheel or repair a waterwheel or buy bicycles for making deliveries, so they
could start producing things, selling things, and earning a living. It has
worked spectacularly well - his Grameen Bank has lent tiny sums of money - I
mean, for instance, his first loans were for $27 each to 42 women to help
them buy weaving stools - to over 6 million borrowers so far.
The default rate, you will also be interested to hear, is vanishingly small
- and much better than that of any regular commercial bank you know.
Yunus is a true hero, a true saint, and a true capitalist - which is not,
impressions to the contrary notwithstanding, an impossible combination. And
you never know what imaginative, ambitious poor people will think of: One
early success story was a customer who borrowed a few dollars to buy a cell
phone and the first month's service, then offered use of the cell phone to
her neighbors for a small fee, because they lived in a village too poor to
have land lines for regular phones, and too poor to afford telephone service
The $1.4 million in prize money that Yunus will share with his bank will end
up, no doubt, in assisting hundreds of thousands of the poorest poor to take
steps up out of poverty themselves, in ways government programs could never
do, and without funding layers of corrupt bureaucrats and overweening
government officials in the process!
Castro Valley CA