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Sunday, August 12, 2007


Received an email fr. Dr. Zahidul Huque, UNFPA Country Representative for Indonesia (former Country Rep. for the Philippines) about the recent visit of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. This could very well be one of the best practices towards achieving the MDGs.

Read on...

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You will be pleased to know that Prof Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize awardee had a 3 hour discussion with the heads of UN agencies, NGOs and the Media in Indonesia held in the UN Building yesterday. He is here on a five-day state visit at the invitation of the President of Indonesia.

Prof Yunus shared with us his story of the Grameen Bank--how he started with US$27 as the lending seed money from his pocket which has grown to US$6 billion--how a very simple initiative expanded from 42 women in one village to some 7 million in 78,000 villages then to some 37 countries. It was an amazing story and he is a great speaker---people were really moved by his story. He is now advocating for business for social cause and not just for profit. He thinks that this is the way we can achieve the MDGs and beyond and make them sustainable. He also answered some interesting questions from the audience. One such question was why Grameen Bank interest money should not be considered 'sin' as per Islamic interpretation? He said that the Grameen Bank is owned by the borrower themselves; so how can it be a 'sin for the people who are paying interest to themselves to sustain the programme?

Another interesting phenomenon he revealed that each of the Grameen Bank branch is established without any seed money. The branch managers are given a village to choose and then they ask the villagers if they want a bank in that village or not. If they want, they are asked to deposit their share and the bank manager is given one year time to reach a break-even point. All running cost, including the salary of the manager comes from the profits (interest) earned. The Bank has not borrowed any money from any donors since 1995.

Prof Yunus said that now he is also focusing on health issues because he now believes that the ill health and the cost of health care is one of the major barriers to overcome poverty.

Best regards,


Zahidul A. Huque
UNFPA Representative
Indonesia, Jakarta

More about GRAMEEN BANK and Prof. Yunus here.