In 1976, Dr. Muhammad Yunus lent a small amount of money (approximately $27) to a group of 42 women near his home in the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh. Out of this rather inauspicious beginning, the roots were planted for the Grameen Bank (Grameen means village in Bengali), an organization that has made over $4 billion in small loans to poor Bangladeshis in an effort to provide credit, or more accurately microcredit, to persons unable to receive this type of assistance from traditional banks. The Grameen Bank is in the spotlight this week as a high-profile regional summit on micocredit (which will feature visits from Queen Sofia of Spain and talks by Dr. Yunus), is convened in Dhaka on February 16. The summit on microcredit will involve serious discussion about how to bring 100-million poor persons around the world under the microfinance program by the year 2005. While Dr. Yunus has been criticized by some in the banking community as merely performing a type of glorified charity work, he remains confident about his rather successful efforts noting, "I don't care if the rich get rich. It doesn't bother me. They should get richer. I'm worried about the poor getting poorer and not getting richer."
The first link leads to a recent news story from _The New Nation_ newspaper about the continued efforts of the Grameen Bank to improve the lives of the rural poor throughout Bangladesh. The second link leads to a news piece from The Daily Star about the upcoming microcredit summit that commences on February 16 in Dhaka. The third link will take visitors to the homepage of the Palli Karma-Sahayek Foundation, which was set up by the Bangladeshi government in 1990 in order to assist in the alleviation of persistent poverty. The Foundation is also responsible for organizing the upcoming Asia Pacific Regional Microcredit Summit, and ample information on this important event is provided here as well. The fourth link will take visitors to the homepage of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, which is dedicated to providing credit assistance to 100-million of the world's poorest families by 2005. Additionally, visitors can read the most recent "State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign" Report here at their leisure. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the Grameen Bank, and provides detailed updates about the progress of its work and overall mission. The final link provided here will take visitors to an extended interview with Dr. Muhammad Yunus conducted by Sarah Van Galder of the Global Vision group.