Save Grameen Bank!

If you read UN Dispatch, chances are you have heard of the Grameen Bank. This is a financial institution founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus that’s premised on two simple ideas: 1) Empowering women is key to lifting families out of poverty.  2) If given access to credit, poor women can be as entrepreneurial as anyone, anywhere.

This concept is known as microcredit and it has been amazingly successful. Grameen Bank pioneered micro-financing for the poor in Bangladesh, where the bank was founded. Their model has been replicated around the world.

Grameen Bank has helped lift thousands of Bangladeshi families out of poverty and has been a financially solvent social enterprise.  But now, the government of Bangladesh wants to take it over. They have effectively ousted Muhammad Yunus as the bank’s director and are attempting to turn it into a government run enterprise, as opposed to an independent social enterprise. This could crush the bank.

Nicholas Kristof write about the situation last week in a column sharply critical of the Bangladeshi government. Now, there is a online petition being circulated by Avaaz calling on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to cease her offensive against the bank.

One bank has helped more women out of poverty than any other. But a corrupt government has just seized control of it and this inspirational lifeline for women across Bangladesh and beacon of hope for the world, is at risk, threatening the entire microcredit movement.

The Grameen Bank invented microcredit — giving tiny loans to millions of women in poverty to build their own small businesses. Together they’ve built the best bank ever — owned by the women it serves! But now Bangladesh’s scandal-ridden government has fired its Nobel Prize winning founder Muhammad Yunus and taken over the bank, all to silence a political rival.

This takeover could break the bank and destroy millions of people’s hope for the future of microcredit. But if we all speak up now and make it an international scandal, we could shame the government to back down. Sign the urgent petition to Prime Minister Hasina and share it with everyone now and help end this attack on the most needy.

Go here to sign the petition to “Save the World’s Best Bank.” It is a worthwhile and worthy cause.