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The World - Countries - India Teamwork OP 07

Teamwork Oral Presentation
By Inmaculada (01 Intro), Sonia (02 History), Carlos (03 Gandhi), Adela (04 Spirituality), Montse (05 Taj Mahal), Diana (06 Women), Encarna (07 Microcredits),
Irene (08 Food), Miguel MM (09 Music 1), Tere (10 Music 2), Esther (11 Bollywood)
Y5C, 2006-07

By Encarna
(with slideshow below)

India is said to be the home of one third of the world’s poor. Due to the size of the population living in poverty, India is strategically significant in the global efforts to reduce poverty and to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015.

Microfinance has been present in India since the 1970s and is now received as a successful poverty reduction strategy. During the last five years, microfinance has reached considerable expansion in part due to the participation of commercial banks. Despite this growth, the poverty situation in India continues to be difficult.

The main promoter of the history of microfinance is Muhammad Yumus, the man who was awarded, among others, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 1998 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 external link

The story starts in 1974 Bangladesh. Muhammad Yumus was teaching theories of economics at University. According to his words, he “felt the emptiness of those theories in the face of crushing hunger and poverty”. He wanted to do something to help people around him. That brought him face to face with a woman in the village borrowing less than a dollar from the moneylender on the condition that he would have the exclusive right to buy everything she produces at the price he decides.

Yunus considered this as slave labour. Therefore, he decided to make a list of the victims of this money-lending business in the village adjacent to his campus. Then when he had completed his list with the names of the 42 victims who borrowed a total amount of $27, he offered $27 out his own pocket to get these victims out of the control of those moneylenders.

The excitement that was created among the people by this small action made him think that if he was able to make so many people happy, why not do more of it? His first idea was to try to convince the bank located in the campus to lend money to the poor. But the bank said that the poor were not creditworthy. For several months, he was trying to convince the bank without success. So, he decided to give loans to the poor himself. The result was amazing. The poor paid back their loans on time every single time. In spite of this encouraging fact, he faced difficulties in expanding the program to the existing banks.

In 1983, Yumus decided to create a separate a bank for the poor. He named it Grameen Bank or Village Bank. The Grameen Bank was born as a local project run with the help of several university students, all of them girls and boys from the village. This idea, which began in Jobra, a small village in Bangladesh, has spread around the world and there are new Grameen-type programs in almost every country.

Women borrowing money tend to include among their most important decisions, sending their children to school. The fact that many borrowers have sent their children to school is bringing about that they are also moving on to higher education, to become doctors, engineers and so on. This is creating completely different generations, consisting of skilled and qualified people who will take their families out of the reach of poverty.

Yumus and his team have continued developing new projects and new ideas to eradicate poverty. I would like to share with you my favourite one: Information Technology for the Poor.

Yumus created a mobile Company, Grameen Phone. They gave loans from the Grameen Bank to poor women, so that they were able to buy mobile phones to sell phone services in the villages. Telephone-ladies quickly learned and innovated the ropes of the telephone business, and it has become the quickest way to get out of poverty and to gain more responsibility.

Having said that, probably we should explain how microfinance works.

The most common microfinance product is a microcredit loan — usually less than $100. These tiny loans are enough for hardworking micro-entrepreneurs to start or expand small businesses such as weaving baskets, raising chickens, or buying wholesale products to sell in a market.

Income from these businesses provides better food, housing, health care and education for entire families, and most important, additional income provides hope for a better future.

Women have become the target group of microcredits for many reasons:

As we can see, it is possible to achieve great things by small actions.

Yumus said that we can create what we want or what we don’t refuse. If we accept the fact that we will have always poor people around us, and that poverty is part of human destiny, it will be that way.

Fortunately, nowadays we have a lot of opportunities to collaborate with NGOs to develop the projects we consider necessary. Let me invite you to participate in whichever best fits your way of thinking.

And finally, just in case you are not convinced enough to join the group of activists against poverty, I want you to listen to Yumus' words:

To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs to get the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly.

Let us join hands to give every human being a fair chance to unleash their energy and creativity.

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I did it in English but it comes out in Spanish!