Professor Yunus talks about harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of women during a call with Girl Up Teen Advisors and Youth Champions Thursday.
Imagine you could help solve one of the biggest problems facing the world today, and it could be solved simply by utilizing the determination and responsibility of a woman. That is exactly what Professor Muhammad Yunus, the globally recognized 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, did. Professor Yunus is a pioneer of the microfinance and microcredit concept: he founded the Grameen Bank, which lends small loans to women in poor, rural villages. These women are then able to start their own small businesses, pay back their loans and ultimately achieve financial independence for themselves and their families.
Last Thursday, Professor Yunus joined several Girl Up Teen Advisors and Youth Champions for one of our monthly Reading Club discussions. These discussions were established as a way to enhance girls’ understanding of the complex challenges that face developing nations, particularly those that affect girls, by reading a broad range of academic articles. The participants on the call read Professor Yunus’ article “The Grameen Bank”, which discussed the Grameen Bank’s purpose, its successes, and the women it has helped since its founding in 1983.
When asked why microcredit statistically works better when implemented with women, Professor Yunus noted that women are naturally entrepreneurial and have an innate drive to change the course of their lives when faced with extreme challenges like poverty. However, lending money can become complicated with tricky, technical terms and processes, so it is best to whittle banking down to its purest form with the best of intentions – to give women the opportunity and financial tools to succeed.
Professor Yunus noted that microfinance is not only about “starting a business” or being a job seeker, but it is also about making women job givers by hiring and helping other women as their small company grows. Professor Yunus noted that this sense of solidarity and support amongst women inspires other women to take out loans in order to pursue their own goals. If they see that women can overcome similar circumstances through the microfinance, then they can, too.
Lastly, Professor Yunus explained that the Grameen Bank even teaches entrepreneurial skills to adolescent girls in order to make them the next generation of self-sufficient women. Girls can benefit from microfinance because they will realize what great power they hold in changing the world, and owning their own small business is the result of harnessing that power. In microfinancing, the initiative comes from within you to change your fate and, in turn, to alleviate the terrible circumstances of others.
The entire goal of microfinancing is exemplified in Professor Yunus’ last bit of advice to us on the call: “Figure out what you want to do…and go make it happen.”