Muhammad Yunus Accepts Forbes Philanthropy Award: The Crowning Of Banker To The Poor

The road to success is rarely smooth, and for Muhammad Yunus, it has been a long rough road. Long and rough because it is not just his success that he sought, but also that of a whole community of the poor. So far, he has achieved a lot, and although poverty has not completely been eradicated from the world, the world is a better place because this banker of the poor chose to stick to his guns. The world is  a better place because he chose to matter.
The idea to become the banker of the poor arose when he discovered that most of the loans given to the poor by loan sharks ended up making no significant impact in their lives mainly because of the high interest rates charged. And this was prevalent because most of the banks in the country weren't willing to lend to the poor because they feared that they would default on the loans. He chose to take a chance on the poor by lending $27 of his own money to 42 women. They ended up making a profit of $0.02 on the loan. That success was the start of what was to be a revolutionary economic model.

He started lending money from banks and the government to lend to the poor, and soon, diversification began. Grameen Bank, the vehicle for Muhammad Yunus’ project, started investing in underutilized fishponds, software and even in a phone company. In the end, what started out as an idea to help 42 women make a decent living ended up into a success story that is a multifaceted group of profitable and not-for-profit ventures.

Throughout his efforts of trying to change the status quo, he has encountered a lot of resistance. This is not just in the form of not having access to resources, but also political and legal opposition, with people leveling all forms of accusations at him. He has faced violent opposition from radical groups to clergy who threaten their women with not being given a proper burial if they borrowed money from Grameen Bank. There are also the accusations from the government of Bangladesh. He has been accused of “sucking blood from the poor”, despite the fact that statistics show that the bank has lent over $6.7 billion to over 7.4 million poor, most of whom have been able to make a decent living out of the money.

The small-minded people who seek to maintain the status quo have launched almost any conceivable attack on Muhammad Yunus. This includes accusations of fraud and corruption. They seemed to succeed in silencing his efforts of trying to empower women, and the poor in general, when they finally got him fired from Grameen Bank – a bank which through his will and determination he brought to life.

But they are wrong to think that they have stalled, or even stopped him. The success of his economic model has since its inception inspired a replication of the same models in over 100 developing countries. Yunus also still serves in various boards in which he pioneers the empowerment of the poor, especially women. He gives talks, he lecturers and he writes: all which serve to ensure the success of not only his idea, but also of his life’s work and legacy.

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