The System

SummaryAcknowledgementIntroductionWhy Should We Help?The BenefitsThe Venture ItselfHow to Avoid the Marie Antoinette SyndromeThe Action PlanConclusionSelected Bibliography


Appalled by the misery of Sufiya’s life, Yunus compiled a list of other people in Jobra who were beholden to middlemen: (forty-two people, who borrowed a total of 856 taka (less than 27 dollars.) (Yunus, 2003, p. 49)

Yunus was horrified. How could he help? What could he do? Finally, he took 27 dollars out of his own pocket and gave it to these people as a loan. It would enable them at least to get out of the clutches of the middlemen. But Yunus knew his response was completely inadequate. (Yunus, 2003, Chapter 4) (In Bangladesh, half of the total population is worse off than the marginal farmer) (Yunus, 2003, p. 40). He had a brilliant idea:

What was required was an institution that would lend to those who had nothing. I decided to approach the local bank manager and request that his bank lend money to the poor. It seemed so simple, so straightforward. (Yunus, 2003, p. 51)

When he went to the local bank to present his idea, the manager was at first mystified, then irritated, and finally, greatly amused at Yunus’s suggestion that his bank — any bank — should lend money to the destitute (Yunus, 2003, Chapter 4). Yunus began to realize that he was up against (the banking system in general) (Yunus, 2003, p. 55). It is simply not set up for and in fact is completely uninterested in doing business with anyone who does not have at least some resources (Yunus, 2003, Chapter 4). Yunus also realized that his own discipline (economics) was also partly to blame for failing to address poverty:

“. . . [B]rilliant theorists of economics do not find it worthwhile to spend time discussing issues of poverty and hunger. . . . These economists spend all their talents detailing the processes of development and prosperity, but rarely reflect on the origin and development of poverty and hunger. As a result, poverty continues.” (Yunus, 2003, p. 35)

Yunus had discovered that the system spectacularly fails the poor.


Read More: It’s Their Own Fault If They Are PoorJared Diamond and Western (Cargo)Ineffective AidMuhammad Yunus and MicrocreditUnscrupulous PeopleThe SystemGrameen BankIt Doesn’t Affect Us, So Why Should We Care?The Poor Will Always Be With UsThere Is No Point In Giving AidWhere Does All The Money Go?Africa’s Onerous ChallengesAfrica’s Extreme PovertyCorruption and Poor GovernanceLack of Modern Values and Free Market EconomiesA Population Explosion?Why Not Leave It to the United Nations and the World’s Governments?The UNThe Governments of the WorldGrassroots Movements