Book Review: Banker to the poor

Muhammad Yunus (1998)

Muhammad Yunus is a Peace Nobel Prize laureate, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank. He chaired economics at Bangladesh’s Chittagong University. He is the person to popularize microcredit and he is the author of many books on economics, peace, and poverty reduction including Creating a world without hunger (1998), Building a social business (2008), and A world of three zeros (2017).

Banker to the poor was published in 1998. It depicts the journey of the author from the time he taught at a university in Bangladesh to the time his initiative of lending small loans to poor people, known as Grameen Bank, take off. The book also gives information about the author’s childhood and experiences in his adulthood that shaped his mindset and personalities until now.

The book starts with the depressing images of a terrible famine, because of which people went to Dhaka for help and ended up dying everywhere. As a professor teaching economic theories at a university, Yunus found it necessary to get to the root of poverty and help people escape poverty. After visiting the village nearby and talking to poor people there, he and his students were amazed to find out that poverty resulted from a lack of microcredit. People took out usurious loans to buy materials to make products and they had to sell these products to the users at a cheap price. They continued to borrow new loans to pay for old ones and this left them in debt until death.

Seeing the reality that poor people lacked very small credits but had access to nothing because they did not have collateral to take out loans from a bank, which meant that poverty resulted from organizational faults, not individual ones, Yunus contacted a local bank, persuaded the bank to lend money to poor people, worked as an intermediary to guarantee the loans and to support the poor in the process. Not knowing anything about banking, he learned everything from scratch and made changes to the procedures in order to make the program fit with the borrowers. The program later developed into Grameen Bank. Since the end of the 1970s, it has grown quickly and met the needs of many poor people. It has appeared in other countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Nepal, and Vietnam.

Noteworthy sentences (English – Vietnamese):

Grameen has taught me two things: first, our knowledge base about people and their interactions is still very inadequate; second, each individual person is very important. Each person has tremendous potential. She or he alone can influence the lives of others within the communities, nations, within and beyond her or his own time.

Ngân hàng Grameen đã dạy tôi hai điều: thứ nhất, nền tảng kiến thức của chúng ta về con người và cách họ tương tác vẫn chưa đủ; thứ hai, mỗi cá nhân đều rất quan trọng. Mỗi người đều có tiềm năng to lớn. Bản thân họ có thể tác động cuộc sống của những người khác trong cộng đồng, quốc gia, lúc họ còn sống hay khi họ đã lìa đời.

Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us.

Mỗi chúng ta có rất nhiều điều ẩn giấu bên trong mà ta chưa có cơ hội khám phá hết. Nếu chúng ta không tạo ra một môi trường giúp chúng ta khám phá giới hạn tiềm năng của mình, chúng ta sẽ không bao giờ biết được ta có những gì bên trong.

But it is solely up to us to decide where we want to go. We are the navigators and pilots of this planet. If we take our role seriously, we can reach the destination we seek.

Đi đâu hoàn toàn là quyết định của chúng ta. Chúng ta là người định hướng và là hoa tiêu của hành tinh này. Nếu chúng ta nhìn nhận vai trò của mình một cách nghiêm túc, chúng ta có thể đạt được điểm đến mà ta tìm kiếm.

 “To me, changing the quality of life of the bottom 50% of the population is the essence of development.”

Đối với tôi, bản chất của phát triển là thay đổi chất lượng cuộc sống của 50% dân số dưới cùng (của xã hội)

Read more at Banker to the poor

-Thanh Thanh-