An excerpt from the author

May 20, 2008

Following is an excerpts from the author on ‘creating a world without poverty’:

My first book, Banker to the Poor, told the story of the founding and early development of the Grameen Bank. It also explained the workings of microcredit and its power as a weapon in the global battle against poverty.

This book takes the story a step further. Its purpose is to outline the next phase in the economic and social revolution spearheaded by the Grameen Bank and the microlending movement—namely, the emergence of social business in the vanguard of a worldwide effort to eliminate poverty, unleash the creative energies of all people, and make true abundance possible for every human being.

Three themes are central to this book.

The first is poverty—its causes and cure. I will show that poverty is created by economic, social, and political systems, and by false ideas—not by the laziness, ignorance, or moral failings of the poor.

The second theme is the role of women as drivers of the coming revolution. Current social arrangements especially victimize poor women. If the creativity, energy, and desire for family improvement that are latent in hundreds of millions of the world’s women can be unleashed, nothing can stand in their way.

The third theme is technology as a crucial enabler of the revolution. New ways of managing and communicating information are already changing lives the world over. Now these tools must be made available to everyone, including residents of the most remote villages in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The result will be decentralization of economic andpolitical power as worldwide markets in ideas, goods, and services become accessible to all.

When I give public talks about my work, I usually end by sketching my vision of the world of the future. Imagine a world in which there are no more poor people. In such a world, when a child asked his or her parents, “I saw the word poverty in a book—what does it mean?” they would reply, “We’ll take you to visit the poverty museum.”

Perhaps this idea seems impossible, a remote goal that could never be achieved. But consider this: For thousands of years, the world always had smallpox. Millions of women died from complications of childbirth. Sufferers from mental illness were trapped in helpless agony and loneliness. Most countries were ruled by tyrants or hereditary elites. Few people lived beyond the age of thirty.

Today, all these conditions have been swept away, thanks to science, technology, education, and social progress. Most of all, improvements in living conditions have been produced by new ideas. People began to see that illness was caused by microbes, not by evil spirits; that simple measures like sanitation could drastically reduce disease; that human beings, given the opportunity, were capable of governing themselves. When the time is right, a new idea is capable of transforming the world.

The time has come for the new idea of social business to lead the world’s next great transformation—to take the vision of a world in which poverty can be found only in a museum and turn it into reality.

Grameen Foundation uses microfinance and innovative technology to fight global poverty and bring opportunities to the world’s poorest people. With tiny loans and financial services, we help the poor, mostly women, start businesses and escape poverty. Our global network of microfinance partners has already reached over 3.6 million families in 25 countries.

excerpt from the author


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