Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Famous stamp: Grameen Bank. What is Grameen Bank?

Bangladesh released commemorative stamps on Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank on 29th August 2007. Meanwhile, at present government of Bangladesh look up and down him. But, this stamp is very famous in Bangladesh.

The Grameen Bank is a micro finance organization started in Bangladesh that makes small loans,social business, micro credit, to the impoverished without requiring collateral. The system is based on the idea that the poor have skills that are under-utilized. It is currently effective in nearly all districts throughout Bangladesh.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, the bank’s founder, earned a doctorate in Economics from Vanderbit University in the United States. During the terrible Bangladesh famine of 1974 he made a small loan of $27 to a group of 42 families so that they could create small items for sale without the burdens of predatory lending. Dr. Yunus believed that making such loans available to a wide population would have a strong positive impact on the rampant rural poverty in Bangladesh. The main characteristic of the Grameen Bank method of lending is that in order to be considered creditworthy, people need not come and appeal to The Bank, rather the Bank goes to the people. Loans granted by Grameen Bank are repayable in small installments.

The bank began as a research project by Yunus and the Rural Economics Project at Bangladesh’s University of Chittagong to test his method for providing credit and banking services to the rural poor. In 1997, the village of Jobra and other villages surrounding the University of Chittagong became the first areas eligible for service from Grameen Bank. The Bank was immensely successful and the project, with government support, was introduced in 1979 to Tangail District. The Bank’s success continued and it soon spread to various other districts of Bangladesh and in 1983 it was transformed into an independent bank with its own separate legislation. Its success has inspired similar projects around the world. In a country in which few women may take out loans from large commercial banks, the fact that most (97%) loan recipients are women is significant accomplishment. In other areas, track record of Grameen Bank has also been notable, with very high payback rates – over 98 percent.

More than half of Grameen borrowers in Bangladesh, have risen out of acute poverty thanks to their loan, as measured by such standards as having all children of school age in school, all household members eating three meals a day, a sanitary toilet, a rainproof house, clean drinking water and the ability to repay a 300 taka-a-week, (US$4). Grameen Bank has established an interest-free loan program for beggars. With the help of this program 99.98 million taka (US$ 1.47 million) has been distributed among 95 thousand people as of August 2007. The bank has also established an educational loan program that enables borrower’s children to be eligible for admission at universities. 1.26 billion taka (18.3 million US$) has been approved for 27000 students yearly.

Of the total equity of the bank, the borrowers own 94%, and the remaining 6% is owned by the Government of Bangladesh. As of mid-2007, total number of borrowers is 7.27 million, and 97% of those are women. The Bank has 2,459 branches, covering 79,539 villages, with a total staff of over 24,163. Since inception, total loans distributed amounts to TK 338 billion (US$ 5.76 billion). Out of this, Taka 305 billion (US$ 5.76 billion) has been repaid.
On 13 October 2006, the Nobel Committee awarded Grameen Bank and founder Muhammad Yunus the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.”

By - Mohammad Fakhrul Islam. September 2007

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