Business & Economy

Bangladesh bank that proved poor are creditworthy turns 45

By Azad Majumder

Dhaka, Sep 19 (EFE).- Mohammad Yunus, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, gave a small loan to a poor woman 45 years ago, thus sowing the seed for a micro-credit bank to help Bangladesh village entrepreneurs fight poverty.

Mohammad Babul grew up listening to his grandmother Sufia Khatun’s stories about how the small loan led to the birth of a bank that transformed the lives of millions of poor people around the world.

Babul was not born when it happened.

“I heard many stories from my grandmother about how she struggled in her life and how her loan from (the future) Grameen Bank helped her make a living,” said Babul, 37.

He drives a three-wheeler e-taxi.

Her husband had abandoned Sufia and their two daughters.

The woman ran a small bamboo stool business near a university campus in Jobra village in south Bangladesh when she met economics professor Mohammad Yunus.

Sufia was struggling, and Yunus came like a godsend.

He lent her some money to help her grow her business.

After profits improved, an encouraged Sufia approached a bank for more credit only to find the branch head laughing away the idea.

The bank did not want to trust someone with little resources.

That is when the idea to create a system to grant money to the most disadvantaged struck Yunus.

“The bank of the poor” was thus born in Jobra on Sep.19, 1976, with the first loan to Sufia.

The bank later that year extended the financial facility to 10 beneficiaries.

In 1983, the Grameen Bank was incorporated into the banking system of Bangladesh to begin its formal activities.

The bank data shows that it has extended credit to more than nine million people, 97 percent are women, from 81,600 localities from 1976 to 2019.

It has disbursed more than $25 billion, helping the poor establish small businesses and construct houses.

Sufia died in 1997, nine years before Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace.

Among the beneficiaries of the Grameen Bank is Mohammad Solaiman of the southern village of Mekhal.

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