The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo
The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo - August 2006

Sufia Begum lived in Jobra, a village in Bangladesh where she wove bamboo stools for a living. In 1974, a professor of economics visited the village with students, and asked her how much she earned. She replied that she contractually had to sell the stools back to the man who had sold him bamboos, and because she never had money enough to buy bamboos, she borrowed it from a middleman. Her net income, after deduction of the interest, was about $0.02 per stool.

The following day, the professor did a survey in Jobra with his students. They found out that 42 families in the village were in the same predicament. Altogether, the 42 families owed the usurer a total of... $27. The professor gave them $27 and explained they would then be able to buy their own materials, cut out the middleman, and pay him back some day, whenever they could. They all paid him back, day by day, over a year.

Image The idea of microcredit was born from this spur-of-the-moment generosity. It then grew into a full-fledged business concept that came to fruition with the founding of the Grameen Bank in 1983 ('Grameen' means 'Village' in Bengalese). In the years since, the bank has lent $5.72 billion to more than 6 million Bangladeshis. Worldwide, microcredit financing has now helped some 17 million people.

The professor was called Muhammad Yunus. Here comes an excerpt from his lecture when he was awarded the .

Poverty is a Threat to Peace [...]
The new millennium began with a great global dream. World leaders gathered at the United Nations in 2000 and adopted, among others, a historic goal to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Never in human history had such a bold goal been adopted by the entire world in one voice, one that specified time and size. But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream, with the attention of world leaders shifting from the war on poverty to the war on terrorism. Till now over $ 530 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq by the USA alone. I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. [...] I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.

The funny thing here: warmongers in the USA or elsewhere cannot say this guy is naive or inexperienced. It is just the contrary: he is not a dogmatic, and knows what he is talking about.

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