Thursday, February 05, 2009

Muhammad Yunus speaks at George Washington University

Muhammad Yunus filled an auditorium at George Washington University last night. A book series at the University brought Yunus in to talk about his book "Creating a World Without Poverty: How Social Business Can Transform Lives"

Yunus spoke to the crowd about starting social businesses, similar to his own Grameen Bank. The bank has given thousands of small loans to mostly women to help pull themselves out of poverty.

From the University newspaper The GW Hatchet, writer Becky Reeves tells us that Yunus' wife introduced him to the crowd.

Betty Simms, wife of the chairman of the Grameen board - an organization aimed at aiding the world's poor based on Yunus' microfinance model - introduced the Nobel Laureate. She explained how as a young, impoverished boy Yunus overcame numerous obstacles, rising above poverty and helping millions to do the same.

During the event, which celebrated the paperback publication of the Yunus' most recent book, "Creating a World Without Poverty: How Social Business Can Transform Lives," the author spoke about his social business model, outlining how self-sustaining businesses can yield major humanitarian benefits.

Since achieving a repay rate of nearly 99 percent in his Bangladesh-based project, Yunus has spread Grameen Bank to 183 other branches worldwide and has turned microcredit into an international phenomenon.

The success of Yunus' endeavors has led him into a number of other humanitarian projects. In addition to Grameen Bank, Yunus is working with distributors of food, water, shoes and even cars to give the poor access to these goods at a significantly reduced cost, allowing them to maintain a higher standard of living.

Yunus also touched on the current financial crisis, hinting that it offers a parallel to his own financial work. He said that although many have been skeptical of the "credit worthiness" of his borrowers, the bailout has put the American public in the borrowers' position.

"Now is the time to ask the question: Who is credit-worthy?" he said.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I was at the event - his speech was great.

I put together a transcript if you are interested.