Top positive review
Yunus The Man - Yunus The Myth Buster
on 10 November 2008
This is a fascinating book about a fascinating man. Read though if you want to understand about what made this man great not whether micro loans really are the best way to assist the poor in mainly third world countries. We all know that it is usually what's not in an autobiography that is really worth knowing not what has been included. This book contains no mention of the critics of micro loans or any of its disadvantages. It gives the reader the view that micro loans are the answer to eradicating world poverty. It may be an important part of the answer but it clearly doesn't stand alone in the fight today to make sure everyone enjoys at least a reasonable standard of living.
Yunus exposed the banking myth that only loans to the rich backed by collateral are both secure and likely to return a profit. Starting with just £17 he began lending money to the poor in Bangladesh with a repayment rate of around 99%. Acknowledged now as a major contribution to the fight against poverty Yunus's thesis is that hand outs to the poor patronise, disincentivise and are as much about allowing donors to feel they are doing their little bit to help fight poverty as they are about addressing the core problem of what keeps people poor. Micro loans, he advocates, spark initiative and encourage the very type of enterprise that will lift people out of poverty for good.
Yunus is speaking in December this year at a Leadership conference in London. Anyone interested in leadership will take a lot from this book. He's clearly :
- A Rule breaker - like many great leaders he wasn't scared to break rules. He tells the story of how he and his brother when young decided to educate themselves by getting their hands on as much reading material as possible. When Yunus saw the names of prize winners published in a magazine he wrote in pretending to be one of them. He explained he had just moved house and asked that the prize of a year's free subscription be re-directed to the address given. It worked. Yunus also admits to having taken money from his father."The embezzlement never amounted to much, but it was enough to build up a fund to meet my modest requirements" he writes.
- Highly Motivated - initially it seems by anger. On seeing the poverty on his doorstep in Bangladesh which, the grand economic theories he was teaching at universities appeared unable to fix, his rage steadily began to build.
- Rebellious - Yunus describes how he agreed on paper to stand as a guarantor to loans issued by a bank only to tell the manager once completed that he had no intention of standing over any defaults "He looked at me as if I were crazy, but I wanted that, I wanted to cause some panic in this crazy unjust system. I wanted to be the stick in the wheels that stopped the infernal machine"
- Doggedly Persistent - Yunus's determination is remarkable and a lesson to all. His constant challenging of what he believed to be wrong combined with his own self belief in where he had to go is very compelling.
It becomes clear early on in this book that greatness was almost inevitable for Yunus. His sense of self belief and destiny is almost Churchillian in tone. Like Churchill, success came only after tremendously hard work, dogged determination and huge personal sacrifice.