Financing to help the poor
The Editor, Sir:
I have just completed reading a book authored by Mr Yunnus Mohammed of Bangladesh Grameen Bank fame. The book is titled Creating A World Without Poverty.
In this book, Mr Mohammed has written about his journey from being an economic professor at a United States university to the villages of Bangladesh in East Pakistan.The book is filled with a rich account of how, through the intrinsic belief in the desire of everyone to rise from the bottom, coupled with the vision of one man to show the way, the lives of poor village women can be transformed from abject poverty to a place of hope and a sustainable livelihood for themselves and their offsprings.
Mr Yunnus' anti-poverty programme was motivated by the firsthand knowledge of Shylock-like lending habits that were being practised on the poor women and men of rural Bangladeshi villages. These practises are well known in Jamaica, where some same-day loan sharks charge up to 300 per cent interest on loans to the poor. Mr Mohammed was so outraged by these practises that he decided to lend his own money to extricate some of these people from the cycle of poverty, and so began what is now known as the Grameen Bank.
The jamaican 'yunnus'
Today, the Greemen Bank has spearheaded a massive programme of microfinacing to tens of thousands of rural and urban poor in Bangladesh and other parts of the world. The question is, sir, where is the Mohammed Yunnus among the Jamaican finance and entrepreneu-rial class? Who will step forward and lead the charge against poverty in this country, secure in the belief, as did Mr Yunnus, that if everyone is given a chance they will rise and take their rightful place in society?
If we are going to deal with the issues of underdevelopment and its siblings of crime and violence, we have to begin to chart a new course, and what better way to do this than to start believing in our people and giving them the tools to be equal partners in our collective progress to toward a better Jamaica.
I am etc.,
Winston D. Barrett