In Support of Microfinance Guru Dr Muhammad Yunus
Trouble is afoot in the world of microfinance. In case recent events have escaped your notice, Dr Muhammad Yunus, the pioneer of microfinance, has been ousted from Grameen Bank by the Bangladesh High Court.
Yunus set up Grameen Bank in the late ’70s to offer collateral-free loans to poor entrepreneurs in Bangladesh’s rural areas. The bank now supports 8 million borrowers in 81,343 villages across Bangladesh. The success of this lending model has inspired thousands of microfinance organisations and charities similar to Deki. Yunus also went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for developing the concept.
According to the Bangladeshi High Court, the 70 year old Yunus was improperly employed beyond the country’s legal retirement age of 60. Rumours abound, however, that the decision is politically motivated after Yunus took steps to form a political party in 2007. Nurul Amin Khandaker, a Grameen Bank accountant, even suggested that the ruling is “part of a long campaign to humiliate him”.
The debate has raged on with 20,000 of Grameen Bank’s employees and customers rallying against the decision. These were joined by high profile politicians including Hilary Clinton, civil society members, lawyers, journalists and approximately 3.7 million borrowers.
The world is watching as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh considers what their next steps will be.
Here at Deki, we’re concerned by the removal of Dr Yunus and the potential instability that could result for borrowers and the economy. As the head of Grameen Bank, Dr Yunus has not only helped rural borrowers work their way out of poverty but also acted as an inspirational figurehead for the micronfinance movement. Our hopes are that Dr Yunus is reinstated so he can continue his work in Bangladesh while giving hope to those living in poverty all over the world.