Grameen Bank Education Loanee bound for Europe for Further Studies

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Mohammad Kamal Hasan is now doing BSc fourth years’ student of Jahangirnagar University in the Department of Zoology, was recently awarded for Europeon Commission’s  “Erasmus Mundus Scholarship”. It’s a one year undergraduate program and he will do this program at the Aristotle University in Greece from September 2013 to July 2014 in Biological Sciences.

Kamal is a son of Ms. Laily Begum who is a borrower of Grameen Bank, Shatgara Branch, in Rangpur District since 2009. Among his five siblings, Kamal is the youngest one. His father was an employee of a government office who retired in 1991. He completed his SSC in the year 2006 and HSC in 2008, receiving GPA 5 in both exams.

Given the financial condition of the family, it was difficult for Kamal to carry on his study. He applied and received an education loan from Grameen Bank  in 2010, receiving a 100,000 taka loan .

While studying in Jahangirnagar University, Kamal applied for the scholarship to study in Greece. He was selected amongst many promising applicants around the world. This opportunity will help him in building a promising career to contribute in the development of the country in future.
 
He plans to return home after completing this course in July 2014 and has aspirations to do a Ph.D. As a biologist, Hasan not only wants to contribute in the biological field but also to the power management sector in future. Grameen Bank has provided Higher Education loans to 52,287 students from Grameen Bank families.

Crowd Funding for Albania Social Business

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Yunus Social Business (YSB) has teamed up with Kiva.org, a non-profit crowd-funding platform, to raise 18,000 euro in zero-interest loans for Rozafa, a social business of marketing in Albania. The investment will, over a period of 6 years, finance development and implementation of a successful marketing strategy for Rozafa, that will help it to bring women’s beautifully crafted Albanian handicrafts to the European market. YSB successfully raised $23,950 for Rozafa from 16th to 17th August, 2013 from a total of 788 lenders.

Partnership with Kiva
Yunus Social Business (YSB), an incubator fund co-founded by Prof. Yunus to create and empower social businesses outside Bangladesh, formally became a partner of Kiva in October 2012. This happened after Premal Shah, founder of Kiva, met Nobel Laureate Professor Yunus at Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Kiva came into global fame by connecting small amounts of individual money to microcredit borrowers around the world as loans.

About Rozafa
Rozafa was founded to empower rural women and to revitalize the traditional Albanian handicrafts. It provides training, equipment, sales and distribution services to create marketing wing of Rozafa as a separate business, YSB helped Rozafa to incorporate a new Rozafa social business. This is financed by the Kiva loan.

Rozafa, the social business, had a funding requirement of Euro 18,000 to implement a sales and marketing strategy which would help it to find steady flow of clients for the handicraft products of its 120 female artisans. They went through several workshops to build their capacity to make an income from their skills despite living in a small city outside the track of global trade and commerce.

Posting the Loan on Kiva
As a partner, YSB has access to the online system to post their formality requirements onto Kiva.

Rozafa’s repayment will begin from September 2016. It will transfer the repayments to Kiva via YSB every month until the nominal principal amount of the loan is fully repaid. Kiva does not charge any interest or fees.
 
Marketing of Kiva Loan
The success of the Kiva loan propels it to expand in an unlimited way. The loan was marketed via YSB's website and social media platforms as well s through Yunus Centre's social media platforms. Yunus Centre’s social media will continue to publicize and mobilize these loans.

 

BBC Radio 4- I have a dream, "It's very peaceful, it's very friendly"

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus took part in a unique broadcast on BBC World Service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's inspirational “I Have a Dream Speech” along with fellow Nobel Laureates Dr Shirin Ebadi, Aung San Suu Kyi and John Hume, the Dalai Lama and others who, in different ways, have dedicated themselves to the cause of peace, freedom and justice!!!

Branson Joins Volcker in Urging Hasina Not to Seize Grameen Bank

By Arun Devnath
Source: Bloomberg
Published on: 15 Aug, 2013

Richard-Branson 2127506bRichard Branson and Paul Volcker are among global leaders urging Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed not to seize control of the microfinance lender founded by Nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

A panel set up by the nation’s finance ministry is recommending that the government replace officials on Grameen Bank’s board and take control of parts of the business, according to a letter signed by 40 people that was e-mailed to Bloomberg News. Abul Kalam Azad, Hasina’s press secretary, said he wasn’t aware of the letter when reached on his mobile phone.

The letter -- which comes a week after the New York Times published an editorial saying that Hasina’s administration should “stop meddling” with Grameen -- underscores mounting international pressure on her. The conflict between Yunus, 73, who shot to fame globally in 2006 after winning the Nobel prize, and Hasina, 65, has escalated since he signaled an interest in joining politics a year later.

Implementing the panel’s recommendations “could be disastrous,” the signatories wrote in the letter. “They would lead Bangladesh to violate its obligations under bilateral investment treaties, and to compromise the independence that has protected Grameen Bank from political turmoil over the last three decades.”

The panel is due to submit a report on its proposals this week that would include nationalizing and breaking up Grameen Bank into 19 smaller lenders, the New York Times reported on Aug. 6. The government has no plan to raise its stake in Grameen beyond the present 25 percent, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said on Aug. 7. Gokul Chand Das, joint secretary of the ministry, said yesterday that the commission had not submitted its final report yet.

Seizure ‘Tragedy’

Grameen, which means “rural” or “village” in the Bangla language, had 8.4 million borrowers as of July, 96 percent of whom are women, according to an Aug. 5 statement on the lender’s website. The bank had lent $14 billion since it began operations in 1976 and had a loan recovery rate of 97 percent as of July, according to the lender’s website.

“The seizure of the Grameen Bank would be a tragedy, not only for Bangladesh, but would also send the wrong message to every other developing country who has followed this proven model to provide loans to its borrowers,” Branson, the 63-year-old founder and chairman of Virgin Group, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News. “I urge Sheikh Hasina to take some time to consider these proposals.”

Bair, Levitt

Paul-Volcker-financeBranson was one of the signatories on the letter. Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Volcker, former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt also signed. Levitt is a board member of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

Grameen Bank is “a direct lifeline for more than 8 million people working their way out poverty,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, who is also a signatory. “This work is possible because of the leadership of Grameen Bank’s board of directors and partners, and their continued independence to operate this bank for the poor,” Kennedy wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.

Kennedy’s father, Robert, was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the presidency. Her uncle, John F. Kennedy, was killed in November 1963.

Women Borrowers

Separately, 32 members of U.S. Congress wrote a similar open letter calling upon Hasina not to implement the recommendations, which would “undermine the women borrowers and shareholders who have made the bank such a success.”

The government’s Grameen Bank panel was formed in May 2012 to look into the lender’s legal status and operations about a year after the country’s central bank removed Yunus as managing director. Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in starting the lender, had breached retirement norms by staying on as Grameen Bank’s head after turning 60, Bangladesh Bank said at the time.

“It’s good news that global leaders are on our side,” Tahsina Khatun, a director of Grameen Bank, said in a phone interview yesterday. “Now I hope the government will listen to them. We have tried to convince the government to let Grameen Bank be as it is.”

Bangladesh Takes Aim at Grameen Bank

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Source: The Daily Star
Published: August 6, 2013

The government of Bangladesh is considering nationalizing and breaking up the widely admired Grameen Bank, which pioneered the business of lending small amounts of money to poor women who want to start and grow businesses. Lawmakers should reject these destructive ideas and stop meddling in the affairs of this important financial institution, which serves 8.4 million rural women.

In the last two years, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has waged a destructive campaign against Grameen and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Her actions appear to be retaliation for Mr. Yunus’s announcement in 2007 that he would seek public office, even though he never went through with his plans.

In 2011, her aides forced Mr. Yunus out of his job as managing director of the bank by arguing that he was older than a mandatory retirement age of 60, even though bank regulators had previously allowed him to stay in the job after he crossed that threshold. Since then, the government has started an investigation into the bank and is now planning to take over Grameen — a majority of whose shares are owned by its borrowers — and break it up into 19 regional lenders.

Although the microcredit model created by Mr. Yunus in the 1970s has lost some of its luster in recent years because of controversial practices by some lenders other than Grameen, the approach remains a vital tool for reducing poverty. It has helped millions of poor women start and sustain small businesses around the world and especially in Bangladesh, according to the World Bank.

Turning Grameen into an arm of the state would jeopardize the bank’s core mission by subjecting it to destabilizing political interference. And breaking it up would make its operations less efficient while eliminating it as an influential national organization that might challenge government policies.

A government-appointed commission studying Grameen Bank is expected to produce a report next week that recommends three different proposals, one of which would nationalize and break up the bank, according to local news reports. Some political analysts say that Prime Minister Hasina might not act on those recommendations until after the country votes for a new government at the end of the year to avoid giving the bank’s many borrowers and employees a reason to campaign and vote against her.

Regardless of when the prime minister makes her decision, she has provided no compelling reason to dismantle one of the most promising credit movements to have benefited millions of women in her country.

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