In many ways, despite advances in technology, the exploitation of the poor by the haves has not changed much over the past few centuries – nor has ignoring those of such abject destitution that they barely survive.
In the DVD “Bonsai People: The Vision of Muhammad Yunus,” documentary maker Holly Mosher offers a detailed insight into the innovative microcredit financing that helps poor people rise into a functional economic system and improve their standard of living. Over the years, Yunus has learned that this form of lending works best when put in the hands of women, often organized into groups who share responsibility for ensuring repayment of the modest loans.
The laboratory for Yunus’s innovative approaches to reducing impoverishment is his native country of Bangladash. From microcredit lending, Yunus has moved onto creating social businesses that improve the health and welfare of the poor, while providing employment and investment opportunities. This includes a network of health clinics. In short, Yunus is working with poor people, particularly women, to create a functional interconnected economy for a group long left behind by those individuals with means.
Due to the success in Bangladesh, Yunus is now working to expand his “bootstrap financing” for the poor and social businesses to other nations, including the US. The effort, however, will require vigilance to keep profiteers from hopping on board and taking financial advantage of the poor through high interest rates and social businesses that don’t have the community interest at heart.
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