It is no secret that Muhammad Yunus, head professor of Economics at Chittagong University, shook the world with his innovative and breakthrough theories on micro-financial lending. Founder of the successful banking institution the Grameen Foundation, Yunus became responsible for bringing much needed attention to the dire state of poverty in his native of Bangladesh.
However, the accomplishments which he writes about in his autobiography, Banker to the Poor, were certainly not met without difficulty. In fact, Yunus’s original inspiration behind tackling poverty was a natural progression derived from his many life experiences. Together, the events discussed in his book illustrate an intriguing account of the life of a simple man’s journey, and his dream becoming a reality through relentless effort and dedication.
The following article is a review of his acclaimed autobiography, Banker to the Poor: Micro Lending and the Battle against World Poverty.
Yunus’s literary work easily trumps the average written biography we are used to seeing in bookstores and libraries. Banker to the Poor offers readers an exciting journey alongside Yunus in his adventures from being a young boy caught in the whirlwind of a revolutionary era, to an intelligent young student with exceptional academic skills and active participation in politics and government. Born in South Central Bangladesh, Yunus was raised under his parent’s strong beliefs of educational achievement and religious spirituality. Being the third of fourteen children (with the exception of five whom passed away during infancy), Yunus was brought up from humble beginnings living in the second floor of his father’s jewelry workshop.
Banker to the Poor can be categorized into two parts. It first begins with an intimate account of Yunus’s personal life as a curious child growing up amidst the chaos of the Second World War, the Pakistan Movement, along with the Bengali War of Liberation. Unique to his story are the events which will surround and affect his childhood, adolescent and adulthood life. His insatiable need for the advancement of his educational background brings light to the countless unique positions he acquires throughout the book. This includes teaching positions, international scholarships, along with several leadership responsibilities during the Bengali road to independence. Yunus’s ever changing environments eventually lead to the second half of the book, which tells a riveting tale of the inspiration and lengthy process behind the birth of the micro-financial lending system that is Grameen.
Upon his early years as head of the Economic department at Chittagong University, Yunus sought practical ways of implementing his teachings to bring about positive change to the poor and destitute. However, through the author’s narration readers will quickly discover the societal barriers placed upon those less fortunate, thus isolating them from participating in the banking system. Not only is poverty one of the most definable aspects of life in Bangladesh, it is also virtually impossible for poor families to exit their current state of living, simply because they are unable to obtain financial loans or credit. The Grameen Foundation was first established by Yunus to counter-act these issues through unique methods described in his book. After years of experimenting and trials of implementation, it soon launched as the first international organization of its kind with profound success behind the specific cause.
If you are looking to get back into the habit of reading, or if you are on the search for a worthy read, I strongly recommend this book. Issues not only within Bangladesh, the ideas behind Grameen were a result of the global characteristics of poverty which the author observed within much of his country’s geography. Furthermore, a critical analysis into the life choices and decisions of Yunus will uncover his helpful nature and consistent drive to assist people by providing them with the proper resources to build improved livelihoods and remove them from the cycle of poverty. We are individually blessed with unique life experiences, but this book will offer the inspiration to make the most out of them.
Approximately seven years after the publication of Banker to the Poor, Yunus went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Years into the international legacy of the Grameen Foundation has shed an innovative perspective on the stigma of credit loaning to individuals in poverty-stricken areas of the world.