August 21, 2007
A week ago I attended Khazanah Nasional’s talk No 2 by Mohd. Yunus from Grameen Bank, Bangladesh. He won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his now world-famous Bank that lent out micro credit loans to poverty stricken communities, and has successfully transformed their lives. The story is mindblowing, amazingly revolutionary and completely turns traditional bankers on their heels.
Yunus talks about the banking system as one that should exist for the benefit of the poor. In his experience, he found it startlingly contrasting that the university should be beside the hardcore poor, and that despite all the knowledge amassed by the university, still professors had not figured out a way to help people out of poverty cycles.
He began by giving little tiny loans to families. Eventually they used this capital to improve their homes and lives. An interesting fact is that 96% of the loans are given to women. And the bank has a 99% repayment rate. Which is amazing. He is a hero. I hope many others follow his example to rethink the concept of profit, prosperity and the financial world. Profit should mean profit to the entire community, not just for the self or own company, because in the long run an entire generation benefits.
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