Banker to the Poor: Microlending and the Battle Against World Poverty
By Muhammad Yunus
This is the story, in his own words, of the man generally acknowledged as the Father of the Microlending Movement. This is a system of helping people out of abject poverty without state-fun welfare and in a way that turns a profit and allows the borrowers to move up in the world rather than stay dependent on the lenders. I was already sympathetic to this movement, so I was thrilled when my online book group chose it as our March book. I found it very readable, in spite of a few dull parts about the business side of things. He is a passionate man, and I was inspired by his willingness to do something rather than nothing. He literally started lending money with the change in his pocket. From that instance grew the Grameen Bank Project, which was sort of an extension of his work as an economist at a university in Bangladesh. The current Grameen Bank is now a worldwide operation. The thing that amazes me is how little is needed by the borrowers to make a real difference in their lives. They use the capital to start businesses or buy materials to manufacture something they are skilled at, etc, and these (mostly) women can start to turn their lives around with the equivalent of 30 or 40 dollars. I feel strongly that the welfare state as it is currently operating in the United States does more harm than good in the long run, and I would love to see Dr. Yunus' principles put into practice everywhere there is someone who needs a hand up, not a hand out. If you think you might be interested in something like this, check out Kiva. While not exactly the same thing, I also like the Perpetual Education Fund, an outreach program of the LDS Church.