Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank
Friday, March 9th, 2012 @ 6:20PM
This week I had the honour of meeting and listening to a Nobel laureate, Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank. Fittingly, during the week of International Women’s Day, Professor Yunus’ and Grameen Bank’s model of microfinance focuses on women as the key to ending cycles of poverty.
First trialled in 1976, the model quickly proved itself as an effective and empowering way of harnessing the talents of Bangladeshi women. By loaning small sums of money to women who knew how to target and focus the capital into improving their business idea, Grameen Bank allowed marginalised Bangladeshis to help themselves through entrepreneurship.
As a coop MSP and member of a credit union, I firmly believe that giving people a stake in their future is an important step, and can lead to a path out of poverty. Like the Grameen Bank model, coops and credit unions also empower people, a crucial first step in boosting confidence which helps so much in the world of work.
The Grameen model has been introduced in the USA, with the support of President Obama, where it has proved successful and is expanding. While this model is not a ‘silver bullet’, it could have an as important and empowering effect on women in Drumchapel as it did for women in Dhaka, and Professor Yunus is looking into establishing such a Bank in Glasgow in conjunction with Glasgow Caledonian University.
The many ambitious, enterprising people who find themselves out of work should not have their creativity stifled, and in some cases access to small loans could help people to forge a path out of unemployment. I will be watching developments closely to see if the Glasgow model can be a success, as I dearly hope it will be.