Sunday, February 03, 2008
With this in mind Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen Bank to make very small loans to the poor. The initial round of loans averaged around $0.50 apiece. His position was that the least qualified should be given priority for loans. A woman who claimed she didn't know how to handle money because she'd never even touched it was their prime loan candidate, according to Yunus. The bank has grown to 2,100 branches, nearly 25,000 employees, and 7.4 million borrowers. For his trouble Yunus and the bank were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006.
My favorite anecdote from listening to the podcast of Yunus' address to the Commonwealth Club involved his work with Dannon. The giant yogurt company wanted to work with him to produce an inexpensive, nutritional-supplement yogurt. He said they needed to find a way to package the yogurt that was biodegradable, instead of using plastic. Dannon searched far and wide and returned with plans to use a corn starch substance for the container. Yunus asked if the container could be eaten. They said no. He said it was no good to sell the poor something they couldn't eat. "When I buy ice cream, I can eat the package it comes in," he said.I hadn't thought of a cone quite that way before.