Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yunus’ Pay-It-Forward: Saving an economy with $12 loans

Who would have thought that opening a bank to provide loans to the poor of Bangladesh would end up winning the next Nobel Peace Prize? Here’s a perfect example of a small act of kindness going a very long way. When I first read this article, I could not help but think how impractical Muhammad Yunus’ idea must have seemed when he first decided to open a bank to provide loans to individuals that any rational bank would turn away. His first simple act of kindness was loaning $27 to 42 villagers near the University where he taught economics. This small act spurred the creation of the Grameen Bank, a bank devoted to providing microloans to Bangladesh’s poorest citizens. On the outside, a horrible business endeavor, but the potential for growth was more than any of his critics had expected. This reminded me of a past post on the Origin of the Paradoxical Commandments: The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyways. More so than his actual act of opening Grameen Bank, I find it admirable how he was able to persevere through constant criticism for something he believed was the right thing to do, even if it was not the most economical. Even within this one article, there is mention of Yunus’ critics on several occasions. I am glad he did not head their advice or else there would be 80,000 more beggars in Bangladesh than there are today.

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