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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
21
Banker to the Poor: The Story of the Grameen Bank
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£6.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on 15 February 2009
The Grameen banking is a simple but awesomely powerful concept. As described here in detail, it appears to be an answer to alleviating poverty in a wide number of circumstances. The author and founder, Muhammad Yunus has a fascinating life story both in setting up Grameen and its enterprises, and in his personal and professional life (the section on setting up a government in exile for Bangladesh whilst an academic in Nashville is very well told with the level of passion that marks all he writes). The pen pictures of typical Grameen customers are truly involving, and really illustrate how the concept works in simple human terms.
There is however a problem with this book. It was written in 1997 and published in 1998. It says inside that it was reissued as a paperback in 2003, and the cover of this edition flags the Nobel Prize award in 2006, so this isnt old stock still being sold. There is nothing inside the book more recent than financial forecasts for 1998. As well as reviewing the history of Grameen, the book also has short chapters on Grameen's entry in mobile phones and Internet provision. Just think how the world has changed in these fields since then.
So time for a new revised edition...
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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.
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on 24 November 2017
Required reading...for just about anybody, but especially those in banking, politics, socio-economic development. The one book Trump and all his followers should read.
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on 9 December 2010
The Grameen Bank story is well known by now, and you don't need to read this book to get an overview of it. Instead the book provides a great insight into Muhammad Yunus and how he grew his vision into a major enterprise. The struggle, the setbacks, the social norms working against him, the established western institutions blocking him etc. All of it is forms a story of how an entrepreneur won his battles to become an established player.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the book lacks a more critical view of microfinance.
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on 8 May 2015
My other half reads in the loo, I thought he'd never come out!
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on 28 March 2009
If we are going to shift society somewhat we need to read and act on this man's achievements.Written in an easy to read style giving info on the banking system combined with real lives. My own contribution has been to join kiva.org
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on 3 July 2009
A humble account by a remarkable man and his story of creating Grameen Bank; A bank set up to break the poverty cycle Bangladeshis are in thanks to high rates of interest from money-lenders.

A very readable book, it's not about banking in the traditional sense at all so don't let that put you off. Anyone with an interest in 'Third World' issues should read this book as it gives an outline of a shining example of something that works.
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on 8 November 2014
Good
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on 21 September 2013
Let's have a bit of what Mohammad Yunus has created in Bangladesh in the UK. Instead of foodbanks, we need micro finance type banks
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on 12 May 2016
book came with much lower quality than described by producer. not impressed
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