Thursday, February 9, 2012

Muhammad Yunus: Micro lending MACRO support

     Kiva, Accion, Impact First International, FINCA's Village Banking, Give Well, Global Partnerships, United Prosperity, Whole Planet Foundation. Eight examples of the innumerable organizations that have been founded up and prospered because of one man's simple concept: micro lending. Muhammad Yunus, a seventy-something-year-old Bangladeshi economist encountered daily a serious problem for his neighbors. Their resources could not meet their basic needs. For Yunus, not only was it easy to see that this problem boiled down to a general lack of monetary freedom, but also that he could offer a (quite possibly successful) solution.
     Micro lending is essentially a loan with very small, or no interest attached to it. This allows those needing a loan to get the money that they need to buy more cows, more looms, more produce, to then put towards supporting their business. The organizations above use this method to give developing countries part of the boost they need to work to eradicate poverty around the world.
     While economy may not be an avenue of work that most people would consider to be very creative (unless you are swindling people), Yunus turns this notion on its head. His creativity means something very different from, say Martha Graham or T. S. Eliot. While these two great creatives give something incredible to those who understand dance and language, Yunus (and I risk sounding cheesy and childish here, but) truly has given people a chance to change their own lives.
     Take Kiva for example; I have been donating, loaning, and re-loaning my donations for about three years now. The organization is rather complex in itself, not taking into account the lives of those farmers, seamstresses, plumbers, computer technicians, that rely on their loans and support to meet their basic needs and support their business. My guess is that Muhammad Yunus really didn't consider the true possibility and probability that his simple concept could make such a sincere, universal impact.
     But, micro lending does not go with out criticism and such. Many have tested this concept and incorporated it into their for-profit companies. Hearing about these companies, Yunus simply replied that he "never imagined that one day micro [lending] would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks." More than criticism from others with the economy field, Yunus deals with this new problem of "loan sharks."
    Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 as the first Bangladeshi to be given this honor. From there, he announced that he would be starting a line of food that is low cost, high nutrition and high availability for impoverished children. Along with that, he decided to found eye hospitals around Bangladesh for those who cannot afford their own doctor.
     While his creative process seems to be quite a mystery, it is easy for me to see that his creative process did not end with the creation and success of micro lending. Instead, it acted as an impetus for greater change and more sincere growth. It also serves as the foundation for opportunity to turn into action the universal desire to end poverty. A sort of sign that Yunus holds up to the rest of us, saying "this can be done.",30255,1928740,00.html

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