Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (Review)

June 27, 2012

Book cover for "Banker to the Poor" by Muhammad Yunus.Title: Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Author: Muhammad Yunus

Narrator: Ray Porter

Publication Year: 1999

Pages: 312 (audio length: 7 hours 11 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

In 1983, Muhammad Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with miniscule loans. Believing that credit is a basic human right, not the privilege of a few, Yunus aimed to support that spark of personal initiative and enterprise by which the poor might lift themselves out of poverty forever. Grameen Bank now provides over $2.5 billion in micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh. Ninety-four percent of Yunus’ clients are women, and repayment rates are nearly 100 percent. In Banker to the Poor, Yunus traces the journey that led him to rethink the economic relationship between rich and poor and recounts the challenges he faced in founding Grameen. He provides wise, hopeful guidance for anyone who would like to join him in the burgeoning world movement of micro-lending to eradicate world poverty.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

This book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I think that’s largely the part of the content: while I definitely think that Yunus has done a lot of awesome things for people living in poverty in rural Bangladesh, and I think that Grameen Bank is a great and necessary achievement … it just felt like this book was a giant poster praising Yunus and acting as an advertisement and political manifesto. There were definitely times when the narration was uplifting, and I found myself getting excited about what Yunus was talking about, but there were other times where it just felt tedious and boastful and I wanted him to move on. Sadly, those moments came more often than I would hope for in a book.

Having said that, I think that a lot of the information and ideas that Yunus presents are valid and important for people to learn about, so I’m not willing to write off the book completely. If you’re interested in the economics of poverty and/or of Bangladesh, or if you’re interested in learning about the mechanics and applications of micro-lending, or of working with women’s groups in impoverished nations, this might be a good book to include in your research or general reading. That’s why I picked it up. But definitely use Banker to the Poor as one piece in a puzzle, not as the be-all and end-all to your search for knowledge.

Rating:

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