Muhammad Yunus, Nobel laureate, brings microcredit to poor in Latin America

Microcredit – loans to the poor made without collateral – is catching on in Latin America with the help of the Whole Planet Foundation, according to Muhammad Yunus.

Microcredit – loans to the poor made without collateral – is catching on in Latin America with the help of the Whole Planet Foundation .

Muhammad Yunus: We have 7.5 million borrowers, 97 percent of them are women.

Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, known as the ‘banker to the poor,’ popularized the idea of microcredit in his native Bangladesh.

Muhammad Yunus: They take tiny loans and generate income-generating activities, then they pay back the loan, people get out of poverty, and the poor people own the bank. They send their children to school. And the children receive education loans so that they can continue in higher education. And thousands and thousands of young people are now in higher education out of illiterate families because a bank came and supported them.

Yunus helped organize a team of experts from Bangladesh to establish microcredit in Latin America.

Muhammad Yunus: The Whole Planet Foundation is supporting Grameen Trust to start microcredit program in Guatemala. And a beautiful program is running there. In Costa Rica, now in Assam. Now we are talking about doing it in China. They didn’t have to. The market doesn’t expect you to do that. But this is beyond the textbook.

Yunus spoke of the need to ‘step outside the textbook.’

Muhammad Yunus: They needed to step outside the textbook to bring out their own feelings, their own urges. Now we are saying, why don’t we put that in a theoretical framework? We should be feeling proud of what we are doing. We shouldn’t be feeling shy, that oh, we are not going according to the book. The book is wrong. We are not wrong. Human beings cannot be wrong. The book didn’t depict us right. So, we need to do that. That’s what the social business idea is all about.

This work has supported almost 15,000 microentrepreneurs in Latin America alone.

Our thanks to:
Muhammad Yunus
Founder and Managing Director
Grameen Bank Bhavan
Bangladesh

Photo above: Rosario Nimacachi runs a weaving business in Santa Catalina, Guatemala. She took out a loan with Banrural Grameen, a Whole Planet Foundation partner, after her home was flooded by Hurricane Stan.

Jorge Salazar