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Microfinance, Macropride October 16, 2006

Posted by KG in Bangladesh.
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Last Thursday a group of us traveled outwards to a seemingly remote village for an informational field trip on how Grameen Bank works. Seemingly remote because it took hours, literally, to get to the village. In actual distance as the crow flies, it was about 40 kilometers. The drive took 2.5 hours, but I was blessed with co-passengers who were tremendously helpful in passing the time.

Once we arrived at the village, we went to a local meeting of the bank. Armed only with a basic familiarity with the bank’s operations, I listened to the stories of success from local participants. Particularly touching was the tale of a local woman who had been with Grameen program with a number of years, and had now saved enough to send her eldest son to a Master’s program. Or the women who have effectively connected the village to the larger world by obtaining phones from Grameen and starting businesses that sell cellular calls a la carte. Sadly, I forgot my camera; lucky for you a good friend currently in the Embassy’s Econ section remembered his; you can see his photos here. (Yes, my hair is way too long in those photos. Don’t worry, it has since been cut.)

And then, Friday, we all heard the really big news. The timing: interesting, and in some ways serendipitous.

The appreciation Bangladesh has shown forProfessor Yunus’ and Grameen Bank’s achievements extends well beyond being named a Nobel Prize recipient. But the prize is welcome international acknowledgement to the plight of the poor in Bangladesh and the creativity and dedication of one man and his organization in championing their cause. The headlines of the papers over the last few days were in fonts larger than I’d previously seen, extolling the achievements of Yunus and Grameen Bank, the pride of a nation. After seeing what Grameen had provided for the village we visited, the pride the businesswomen had for their own accomplishments, I can only echo those feelings.

Congratulations, Professor Yunus, on a well deserved honor.

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Comments

1. Abhi - October 16, 2006

First of all, I love the title of this post.

Secondly, I was taken completely by surprise that the committee picked someone deserving and championed a program that has already empowered so many women and changed so many families for the better with the potential for more. Surprised because in the past they picked celebrities, which is still commendable, but does not carry the weight of someone who prefers to remain in obscurity and devote his life to the plights of his countrymen.

My Economic Development professor predicted this would eventually happen a couple years ago, but I don’t think he imagined it would happen so soon. He even went so far as to say that Bangladesh would be the biggest success story of our generation. Anyway, for what it’s worth, congratulations to your country (I guess you can consider it your country now).

2. fsowalla - October 17, 2006

Yunus is well-deserving of the prize, especially if you see how many have followed his model around the world.

Interestingly (and predictably) the Indian press has also used this to write articles about how Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize — he was nominated 4 times — and taking jabs at the western elite that is the Nobel Committee. And, of course, the W. Bengal Govt has said they are inviting Yunus to Calcutta and inviting Amartya Sen too. Will have to work that event if it comes about.

3. nowheregrrl. - October 19, 2006

I love the choice this year, too. There’s the most adorable photo of him with a huge smile on radio france international’s website.

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