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Micro-lending genius Yunus: Why he was done wrong

The Bangladeshi government's treatment of Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has lifted millions out of poverty with his micro-lending program, is shameful. And it does nothing to help the poor.

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Rarely does a man in the mold of Muhammad Yunus come along who has devoted his life to the least fortunate among us.

Instead of living the peaceful and comfortable life he could have had, he chose to engage in a crusade against poverty through the use of mico-credit that has succeeded far beyond any expectations.

Yet, as happens so often in history, no man seems to be a prophet in his own country.

The Nobel Peace Prize he received in 2006 — along with the organization he founded back in 1983 — symbolizes for millions of people today the best chance to create “a world without poverty.” Starting from an experiment led in the village of Jobra, Yunus worked day and night, helped by a team of dedicated associates, to patiently and progressively build up the Grameen Bank. Today it is the largest and most famous organization dedicated to microfinance in the world. Its 8.4 million active borrowers — of which 96 percent are women villagers — received more than $1 billion in loans during the year 2010.

Grameen Bank has become the flagship enterprise of an industry that in 2009 enabled 190 million poor families all around the world to access financial services.

History of government interference

Even as he tirelessly pushed forward this remarkable revolution on behalf of the world’s poor, Yunus has encountered difficulties in dealing with his own government

For years the government of Bangladesh has argued against high interest rates — which are part and parcel of the microfinance system because they permit it to cover intense administrative costs and to develop sustainably — as a way to bring down Professor Yunus. Recently, an excuse was served on a silver platter to government officials.

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