The phenomenon of Bangladesh Grameen Bank
Bangladesh Grameen Bank (Grameen) is an important phenomenon of modern times. The brainchild of Dr. Mohammed Yunus, a US educated professor who came to teach at Bangladesh’s University of Chittagong, Grameen is the pioneer of Microfinance. Microfinance, a lending practice for the poorest of the poor, which was conceptualised by Dr. Yunus in the course of his field work with his students in Bangladesh, has now spread across the world (Holcombe, 1995, p 4 to 13). The poor have historically tended to remain poor and become even poorer because of the reluctance of the formal banking sector to lend them small amounts of money on account of their (a) low incomes and (b) inability to provide collateral. Dr. Yunus brought about a radical change in such thoughts by introducing and implementing a banking system that is able to provide loans without collateral to the poor for setting up small enterprises, charge them viable rates of interest, and yet recover money from them in time (Holcombe, 1995, p 4 to 13). The microfinance model has become a great success in Bangladesh and has improved the lives of millions of Bangladeshi citizens. Dr. Yunus and Grameen were honoured with the Nobel Prize in 2006. Their microfinance model has been emulated by numerous organisations in different countries (Grameen..., 2010, p1). This short research study attempts to investigate the growth and operations of Bangladesh Grameen Bank and analyse its PESTEL and SWOT features. 2. Background, Structure and Objectives
The concept for Bangladesh Grameen germinated in Chittagong, Bangladesh, at the instance of Dr. Mohammed Yunus, who came to take up a professorship at the University of Chittagong after completing his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Yunus, whilst engaged in rural development work with his students in the outskirts of Chittagong, found local villagers to be living in abysmal poverty, (despite working continuously at making small jute utility items), because of their lack of access to structured banking and finance facilities. Organising a sum of approximately 1200 Dollars from his own and his students’ resources, he provided micro loans of 27 USD each, without any security, to 42 families, for financing their micro level production activities (Jain, 1995, p 3 to 9). With his experiment at this revolutionary type of lending being startlingly successful, both in terms of recovery and in terms of economic upliftment and business growth of borrowers, Dr. Yunus developed a model for providing banking services and loans to extremely poor people Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated countries of the world, provided abundant opportunities to Dr. Yunus for putting his banking theories into practice. Grameen grew steadily over the years through the application of numerous innovative financing and business techniques to become a truly effective and empowering organisation (Jain, 1995, p 3 to 9). The bank as of now has practically 8 million borrowers, the overwhelming majority (97%) of whom are women. Millions of families have been helped to overcome the poverty and illiteracy trap through its banking and lending facilities (Grameen..., 2010, p1). The bank today has approximately 25,000 employees, about 2500 branches and works in more than 80,000 villages. The bank, which is owned by poor borrowers and the Bangladesh Government in a 94:6 ratio, has distributed approximately 7 billion USD in loans and has a claimed recovery rate of more than 98% (Grameen..., 2010, p1). Key information about Grameen is provided in Appendix 1. The objectives of the bank are well known and relate to extension of banking to the poor, elimination of exploitation of poor individuals by money lenders, creation of self employment opportunities for unemployed Bangladeshi citizens, bring oppressed and disadvantaged women within an organisational structure, and reversing “the age-old vicious circle of ‘low income, low...
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