Grameen Bank provides loans to the poorest of the poor in rural Bangladesh, with no requirement for collaterals and no interest.
97% of shares of Grameen Bank are owned by the borrowers themselves.
The main incentives for people to repay the loans are that groups of villagers borrow together and act as co-guarantors, and a recipient who repays her loan qualifies for another, larger one.
The rigorous selection of borrowers and their projects by these bank workers, the powerful peer pressure exerted on these individuals by the groups, and the repayment scheme based on 50 weekly installments, contribute to operational viability to the rural banking system designed for the poor.
Place: rural Bangladesh
Scale: 8.92 million borrowers (97% women), it is now covering more than 97% of the total villages in Bangladesh (Sept. 2017)
- Loans help poor people engage in viable income-generating activities to get out of poverty. 20% of Grameen Bank members live below the poverty line compared to 56% for comparable non-Grameen Bank members.
- Women could raise their status, lessen their dependency on their husbands and improve their homes and the nutritional standards of their children.
- The average household income of Grameen Bank members is about 25% higher than non-members.
- Shift from agricultural wage labour to self-employment in petty trading.
Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist in a university in a small city close to rural village life in Banglades. From 1974, he traveled to the villages frequently, trying to understand how to alleviate rural poverty. As these visits added up, one phenomenon stood out in his mind: he was troubled by the loan sharking people described. He started keeping track, and counted 42 people he had met who complained of harassment by debt collectors. In total, their debt amounted to $27. This was his epiphany: “I couldn’t believe that people had to suffer so much for so little.”
Although Yunus knew he couldn’t eliminate poverty, he knew he could solve the immediate problem for those 42 people. With $27 of his own money, he paid off their debts. Villagers were shocked that he would do this, he recalled—and banks, too, were astonished when he suggested that this could be done on a larger scale: “They kept repeating for me that it’s impossible to do it.”
By the time he founded Grameen Bank (the name, a Bengali-English hybrid, means “village bank”) in 1983, Yunus had already arranged loans for 28,000 people, using funds from loans he had secured from the government and other banks.
Repayment rates reached 97 percent. The Grameen Bank expanded rapidly. From fewer than 15,000 borrowers in 1980, the membership had grown to nearly 100,000 by mid-1984 and close to 9 million by 2017.
In 2006, Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Grameen Bank. He has now created a dozen of other social enterprises in various fields.
GET INVOLVED !
Visit Yunus Social Entreprises
You can participate to an exposure visit from one to two weeks, with meetings with 4 organizations of the Grameen families.
3 months unpaid internship focusing on assigned work (by one month rotation to three team leaders), social business materials study, visits to social business and Grameen Bank sites, and meetings with Grameen Bank and other Grameen sister companies. You can also do a one month immersion program.
Start your own!
Got inspired to create a microfinance business? You can get a 3 to 4 weeks training from Grameen Bank to learn more about microfinance.