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16 / 07 / 2004
Muhammad Yunus, creator of Grameen Bank: “We want to do business with those who have nothing”

The Forum’s “141 Questions” (68): “Do we need to fight against the system or take advantage of it in order to eradicate poverty?” Muhammad Yunus, Economics professor at Bangladesh University and creator of the so-called “Bank for the Poor”, stated that, “we need to change the system because it is the cause of poverty and will never be able to eradicate it.” One of the many members of the large crowd that gathered to attend the “141 Questions” debate called for the Forum to nominate Muhammad Yumus as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Economics in the light of the financial initiatives he has launched with the aim of ending poverty throughout the world.

More information about 141 questions - To do away with poverty, do we have to fight the system or take advantage of it?

More information about Poverty, microcredits and development

Muhammad Yunus, economist and creator of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, said today at the Haima Stage that, “poverty is the result of a conceptual framework and some institutions.” According to this promoter of microcredits, “we need to change the system because it has created poverty and can never eradicate it.” He explained that the currently system is only capable of perpetuating poverty because it is only based on granting subsidies: “It does not spark any change. It is limited to helping the poor to survive, which only ensures that poverty continues to exist,” he argued.

“When I need an idea, I ask myself how a convention bank would do it and then I simply decide to do the opposite.” The large audience who gathered to attend the “141 Questions” responded to this statement and others of the like with smiles and applause. The over five-hundred people who had gathered around the Haima Stage responded positively to the suggestion that the Forum nominate Muhammad Yunus as candidate for the Nobel Economy Prize made by one of the audience members. Prior to this, Yunus boasted that, “we want to do business with those who have nothing.”

When asked whether he agreed with the opinion that the system should be “chucked” and that the poor should take over, Muhammad Yunus said it was not a bad idea: “The poor would be up to the challenge because they are very smart. If they weren’t, how could they overcome so many difficulties?”

Muhammad Yunus said that they financial system only offers services to half the world population and declared that “for us, a loan is a right for everyone.” He said , “we must create a system to counteract the establishment: if you have a little you, we’ll pay attention, if you don’t have anything, we’ll pay even more so.” Based on mutual trust, where there are no papers or legal institution, “we have wonderful results; we’re interested in the poorest, and above all, women.” That’s the way to do what Muhammad Yumus started doing 30 years ago with 27 dollars in his pocket.

The Grameen Bank, which employs 12,000 people, lends 500 million dollars a year. There is no backer, but «99% of the one is paid back, and we have three and a half million borrowers.” 70% of these 500 million dollars come from the creditors’ savings and the other 30% from people who put money in the bank.

Despite all, Muhammad Yunus admitted that microcredits play a small part in eradicating poverty. After pointing out the need to make new technologies available to the poor, he explained another one of his projects that consists of giving cell phones to the poor who do not have electricity: “Using a credit, one of the poorest ladies could buy a cell phone and the rest of the people would have to pay to use it. As a result, she would suddenly become an indispensable person to the community.” This scheme actually has another one behind it: installing solar energy panels