Friday, December 22, 2006

Mother Teresa and Yunus

Dubai – We can do no great things; only small things with great love, the late Mother Teresa once said with reference to her work. The late Mother’s own simplicity epitomised the greatness of her spirit and selflessness.

The US-trained economist, who last week received the Nobel Peace prize for his decisive role in fighting poverty in a country that is one of the poorest and underdeveloped in the world.

The utter simplicity and honesty of Prof Yunus’s vision and his unshakable belief in the essentially good nature of human beings remind you of the saint who spent and devoted all her life in the service of the world’s wretched and rejected on Calcutta’s filthy streets.

Like Mother Teresa, Prof Yunus managed to realise his dream because he believed in humanity. He spawned the miracle called Grameen Bank, one of the world’s largest micro-credit institutions, with only $27.

Conventional banking is governed by the principle that banks are there to help the rich get richer. Banks have no money for those who really and badly need it. As Mark Twain famously argued, a banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

While banks everywhere turn their back on those who cannot offer any collateral or guarantee, Yunus questioned not ‘whether the poor are credit-worthy, but whether banks are people-worthy.’

Today, lending about $800m a year, the bank has 6.7 million borrowers — 97 per cent of them women — and an unmatched 99 per cent loan repayment rate.

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