Why Muhammad Yunus and the Poor Need Us More than Ever
Friday, February 18, 2011
In the past weeks, Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus has been under attack by not only his the leader of the government in his native Bangladesh but by those people and organizations who are upset with what narrows down to Dr Yunus’ stand against corruption and loan sharking.
Basically here is what it comes down to: greed and corrupt power versus truly helping the poor to help themselves.
Anyone who has spent time with Dr Yunus, and everyone I have spoken to over the past few weeks who knows him and the work of Grameen, is horrified at how he is being attacked personally. (see this piece: www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/offshorefinance/8313899/Why-I-support-Mohammed-Yunus.html)
This is a man who lives on a small income, with no air-conditioning in his home in hot humid Dhaka, who will not accept even a cup of water from the poor, and who has dedicated his life to helping the poor help themselves out of poverty. He travels many days per year just to speak out and raise awareness and try to encourage governments and organizations to take action. He truly wants to see and believes we can see poverty eliminated. When he receives a prize or fee he gives it immediately back to the bank for the poor, to create new programs and outreach.
So why is he being attacked? And why do people have such a hard time believing someone could actually act in such a selfless way?
True integrity, and a kind of deep belief in the power of the bottom of the pyramid billions who live on next to nothing, combined with what has become a growing movement and awareness that things can indeed change for the better, threatens the status quo.
The world has changed. The future of this planet will not be dictated by a handful of wealthy folks in the West. That “bottom billion” is extremely powerful and harnessing the energy and creativity of those billions of human beings can be used for either good, or misused by a greedy few to profit off the poor and keep a vicious cycle going. If this power is used in a positive way, the future can be amazing. If abused, we all go down with the ship.
Dr Yunus speaks out about how the poor, if given access to credit, can help themselves out of poverty. He believes that the poor should be the owners of the banks which loan to them, not wealthy or foreign interests who want to cash in on what has become a profitable paying back of interest on the loans. He does not believe that countries should accept foreign funds, and has challenged the debts created by the likes of The World Bank and IMF. He is about keeping the money circulating locally, about truly micro microloans to the poorest of the poor, and that the bankers must go out to the borrowers, hear their concerns, know them.