Viewpoint: Exporting the (Micro) Revolution
By Michael M. Rosen
Muhammad Yunus is a living example of how one person’s hard work, good will, and creative thinking can enhance the lives of millions of people. Unfortunately, his inspiring and well-intentioned recent book is a striking example of the limits of this approach.
The founder of Bangladesh’s acclaimed Grameen Bank, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and a pioneer of “microlending,” Yunus deserves enormous credit for lifting tens of millions of his countrymen and others out of poverty through an innovative financial product that enables entrepreneurs without credit histories or collateral to borrow money.
The success of the movement he spearheaded has been nothing short of astounding. Microcredit, Yunus writes, with justified pride, has “unleashed the entrepreneurial capabilities of over 300 million poor people around the world, helping to break the chains of poverty and exploitation that have enslaved them.” Grameen Bank today provides more than $2.5 billion per year in collateral-free loans to 9 million women and enjoys a repayment rate of 98.96 percent (as of 2016). It has recently established branches in the United States and has bred copycats the world over.
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