The Grameen Bank and Grameen Foundation have been two of my favorite “do good” projects for some time. Today I had a chance to talk about their amazing work with Alex Counts, the President of the Foundation he started in 1997 with the help of Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus, the economist most responsible for the invention and implementation of “microfinance”, a concept that has helped lift millions out of poverty in Bangladesh and other countries.
Unfortunately, some political conflicts between the Government of Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank (though NOT the foundation), threaten to disrupt the Bank’s superb poverty-fighting work over the past years.
I’ve written to the Bangladesh Government about this, and would encourage anybody interested in “making things work right” to consider doing the same. One of the brilliancies of the Yunus economic model has been to reduce the impact of “middle men” and bureaucratic interference, and more restrictions and taxes on the Grameen projects will only lessen their positive impact on the extreme poor in these regions. Also for those of you who STILL don’t get this, we will be helping to *reduce population pressures* by *elevating living standards* in countries like Bangladesh, so please no comments about how we can’t send aid because it just creates a bigger problem due to more population. There *are* legitimate issues with aid and they are being addressed by great charities like Grameen Foundation (more on this in future posts), but in the meantime your support for the poor means helping the entire world live healthier and happier. It’s not just a moral imperative, it’s a practical necessity to fix global problems sooner rather than later.
Letter to Bangladesh:
Dear Md. Masum Khan,
Thank you for the opportunity to address an issue I am very concerned about, which is the ongoing conflict between the Grameen Bank and the Government of Bangladesh.
I want to express my very strong support of Grameen. Although I’m not a legal expert, it seems to me this conflict is more political than legal, and I’m very concerned that restrictions on Grameen or taking over Grameen Bank would have serious negative consequences in the way the Government of Bangladesh is viewed here in the USA.
As you know it is difficult to convince US leaders to “share” more of our abundant resources and prosperity. Grameen’s stellar global reputation helps citizens like me make the case to our leaders to give more money – not to the bank itself but to help governments alleviate poverty in other ways.
US citizens and leaders are more distrustful of government than in most countries, so government interference or ownership of Grameen would jeopardize the credibility of both the bank and of the government of Bangladesh in the eyes of many Americans and American policy makers.
Like you, I want to see the people of Bangladesh achieve their full, broad potential and enjoy the prosperity we do here in the USA. I sincerely believe Grameen projects are making that happen and hope you’ll consider this as you move forward in your good work for the people of Bangladesh.
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