من الخيال إلى الواقع: إنجازات محمد يونس في الوصول لأفقر الفقراء / From Fancy to Reality: Muhammad Yunus' Reach to the Poorest of the Poor


Heba Handousa



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حندوسة, هبة; Handousa, Heba

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Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[Until recently, targeted programs for income generation or poverty alleviation have depended on outright subsidies and cash transfers and have, therefore, lacked the essential ingredient to make them financially sustainable or allow them to reach significant numbers of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society. The concept of the poor being viable commercial borrowers has, therefore, been an important breakthrough in the development literature as introduced and successfully demonstrated by the pioneering work of Dr. Muhammad Yunus. In 1976 Muhammad Yunus, while Director of Chittagong University's Rural Economics Program, launched an action-research project aimed at examining the possibility of designing a credit delivery system that would provide banking services to the rural poor. The overwhelming success of this credit scheme has meant that he was called upon to design training and technical assistance programs that have been attended by more that 4,000 people from 100 countries. The Grameen Bank demonstrated that its strength is derived from the combined financial and social intermediation that it made possible by instituting a number of reinforcing principles based on sound financial practices together with unique features, such as group responsibility and the organization and training of the poor themselves, into effective borrowers, savers and monitors of the credit scheme. Since its establishment as a bank in 1983, Grameen Bank has succeeded in increasing its number of branches to more than 1,000, covering 32,529 villages or about half of the total number of villages in Bangladesh. Its membership has reached 2.2 million - 94 percent of whom are women. The key principles adhered to by the Grameen Bank are: group lending and solidarity among small numbers of borrowers; no collateral of material security is required; no minimum size loan; market-based lending rates; and the provision to depositors of banking services that encourage savings in parallel with borrowing. Grameen's average loan size of $113 represents as much as 54 percent of per capita income in Bangladesh, ensuring that the poorest residents are targeted. The success of Yunus' vision has been in bringing the social concepts of peer pressure as well as group responsibility and solidarity to bear on economic and financial principles, so as to merge traditional systems that work at the social and cultural levels. Another ingredient of success has been Grameen Bank's commitment to undertake social development activities along with its financial credit schemes, such as the organization of village schools and with a strong focus on girls' education, the promotion of family planning and of dowry-free marriage. Micro-finance is now becoming a major tool of development policy and research is thriving on the lessons to be learned from the pioneering work of Muhammad Yunus. More than 1,000 micro-finance institutions have been identified throughout the developing world, and analysis is underway to develop a better understanding of the main ingredients of their success or failure. A major contribution of the Grameen Bank model has been to shift the concept of micro-finance projects from the delivery of charity via largely grant supported resources, to projects for the delivery of finance on market terms that will realize real economic opportunities. The challenge that micro-finance now has to address is to shift from projects with marginal economic growth prospects to projects which take advantage of the global market and modern technology. In the future, micro-finance institutions (MFIs) may become important channels for mobilizing savings of low-income households. Normally non-governmental organizations are not allowed to mobilize deposits from the public, so in this new function of MFI deposit taking, they will have to be registered and under the strict supervision of regulatory authorities, as are banks. In addition, MFI staff and management will have to acquire the requisite financial skills, if they are to be successful in assisting poor households to reduce their vulnerability through the development of savings plans.]

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