Monday, April 11, 2011

Lamia Karim on the fall of Muhammad Yunus

From Lamia Karim: The fall of Muhammad Yunus and its consequences for the women of Grameen Bank:
"With more than 9 million borrowers, the resource-rich Grameen Bank is a formidable vote bank. If its charismatic leader goes into politics, he can take away votes from Hasina’s ruling party, although he cannot undermine the party. Moreover, government bureaucrats, such as the director of the Bangladesh Bank, find Yunus as a law unto himself because of his international stature. Bureaucrats feel that Grameen Bank (and other NGOs) receive donor funds that should go to the government. Finally, there are ongoing turf battles among the largest microfinance NGOs in the country. The removal of Yunus and the weakening of Grameen Bank would give these competitor NGOs an advantage to recruit “credit-worthy” members, and to create more power and resources for themselves. It is this toxic brew of power and envy that has embroiled Nobel laureate Yunus in a legal dispute with the current government.

In the western fetishization of this iconic individual, the real issue is that the ever-deepening debt crisis for poor women is forgotten. And that is the saddest part of the story."

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