False Stories about Professor Yunus -- A Rejoinder

প্রফেসর ইউনূস সম্পর্কে প্রচারিত মিথ্যা সংবাদের প্রতিবাদ

A report published in web-based newspaper in the USA called The Daily Caller on April 17, 2016 was picked up in Bangladesh media on April 19 and April 20 and has created great deal of misunderstanding among  readers.

Caption of the story in its various versions follow the original caption "Disgraced Clinton Donor Got $ 13 million in State Department Grants Under Hillary" contributed most towards this misunderstanding by giving the impression that Professor Muhammad Yunus received this US government money personally, and that he got it because his powerful friend misused her official power to give this money to him. It also reported, completely falsely, that he donated money to her family foundation implying that was a reason he received funds from the State Department. The report also claims that Professor Yunus was ousted from Grameen Bank on corruption charges, which is completely false and an intentional smear.

To remove this confusion created by the all the false information in this piece, we are presenting the following facts. Firstly, the report totally falsely says, that the Department of State has awarded at least $13 million to Professor Yunus in grants, contracts, and loans. State department has no authority to do such thing. Congressional oversight agency on USAID operations would have protested vehemently. The newspaper completely ignored how US government agencies work.

Obviously, Professor Yunus did not receive any US government money personally. Agencies created for development aid cannot provide funds to any individual. Furthermore USAID procedure of qualifying for a grant or investment and its approval process is one of the most exhaustive one known in the donor world. It is a total fabrication that Professor Yunus received USAID money personally. 

Secondly, the news report citing the Clinton Foundation website stated that Professor Yunus donated between $100,000 to $300,000 to the Foundation and falsely asserts that the figures quoted are from the website. That too is a lie.

The Clinton Foundation website mentions Grameen America under the category of contributions related exclusively to membership, sponsorship, and conference fees to attend the Clinton Global Initiative, which is an international conference. The President of Grameen America paid these fees for attending the conference over ten years. There is no mention of Muhammad Yunus as a donor anywhere on the website.

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors?category=%24100%2C001%20to%20%24250%2C000&page=2

Thirdly, the news gives the impression that Yunus and Grameen have been given funds by USAID because of influence exercised by Ms Clinton, the Secretary of State. Grameen companies around the world have been receiving funds from USAID for at least last 30 years under Republican and Democratic administrations. This relationship is a long term relationship developed long before Ms Clinton came to Department of State.

Fourthly, the newspaper claims that (in addition to alleged personal $13 million from USAID) Yunus had business relationship with groups allied to Yunus. This is completely false, because Professor Yunus does not have any business relationship with any organization anywhere, let alone the groups allied to Yunus.

Fifthly, the caption should have read “highly celebrated” instead of "disgraced" because Professor Yunus has been given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, a rare example of  a  resolution supported by both parties and passed by the House by more than the required two-third  majority and approved by the Senate unanimously in 2010. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009, the World Food Prize in 1994, and the CARE Humanitarian Award in 1993 from the government of the United States and countless other honors from all sections of the US society over the last several decades.

Where did the alleged $13 million USAID money go? In our quick website information check we do not see USAID money going to Grameen organizations adding up to $13 million during this period. Whatever USAID gave, it was mostly in contracts, and investments, only a small portion as grant. There are Grameen and Yunus organizations all over the world which developed to serve the poor and solve social problems in those countries.

Two organizations in the USA are Grameen Foundation and Grameen America. Grameen Foundation was founded in 1998 to raise funds to finance micro-credit organizations around the world. It has raised a total of $198 million dollars to support micro-credit programmes in 20 countries. Among many donors USAID was also a small donor. Grameen America Inc was founded in NY in 2008 by a wealthy American, a dedicated Republican, with his own money. It became very successful and spread over 11 cities in the US, requiring more funds than he could personally provide. He spent his time and energy to raise the money for the program, and the organization now serves 65,000 women borrowers through 18 branches. It has given out   $380 million in micro loans with over 99 percent recovery.

Another organization which received funds from USAID is Yunus Social Business (YSB) which was founded in 2011 by two German young professional women from Boston Consulting Group. It is headquartered in Frankfurt. YSB operates in Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Tunisia, Uganda, Tanzania, and India. It has established 34 social businesses in these countries investing more than $8.6 million dollars. It has created social business funds in several countries.

All the organizations which promote Professor Yunus' ideas of micro-credit and social business are funded by many donors, banks, high net worth persons, and investors. USAID is just one of the many organizations that have invested in these organizations for the quality and impact of their work, not for the favour of a friend in high place.

The news report deliberately made a false statement that Professor Yunus personally received these funds. If it had good intention, any elementary research could have uncovered the truth. Misinformation spread by them throughout the piece suggests clearly that this is a smear piece and not objective journalism.


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