The other side of micro-credit

The Micro-Credit Cult

This is an article from a free-market libertarian website (called The Free Market) regarding the Grameen Bank, the institution run by the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Younus. Among other things, the “bank” is not really a bank and doesn’t make its own profits, but rather redistributes state and international grant money at 20% interest, making future business dependent on not only the borrower’s own repayments, but those of a whole group of them. The institution also invades borrowers’ family lives:

“Confidentiality breeds lies,” says Yunus, and that rule applies to more than finances. The bank’s ideological mission requires that when you borrow, you turn over your private life to the bank’s staff. Borrowers must take vows to “keep our families small,” to “build and use pit-latrines” and to “plant as many seedlings as possible during the planting seasons.”

It gets stranger. The bank requires borrowers to attend weekly physical-training exercises. They must participate in parades where they repeatedly chant the “Sixteen Decisions,” a narrative summing up the bank’s worldview. Among the choruses is this: “We shall take part in all social activities collectively.” …

Yunus was cheered at the UN conference because 93% of Grameen’s borrowers are women. But this fact too is a function of its social agenda. Yunus — and the international organizations that fund him — have concluded that population and marriage are the primary causes of Bangladesh’s poverty. Women drawn into the Grameen orbit “emancipate” themselves from family and biology and enslave themselves to Grameen instead. …

Borrowers with children are strongly “encouraged” to send them to one of 18,000 “feeder schools” from a very young age. There they are taught with Grameen textbooks that promote the Sixteen Decisions. People who work for the bank must also demonstrate loyalty to the Sixteen Decisions.

This article from the New Internationalist also indicates that micro-credit is not all it is made out to be, and that the local women struggle to make the point (hat tip: DrM).

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