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Last updated at 11:21 BST, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Micro-finance 'misused and abused'


25 May 2011

The former head of Bangladesh's Grameen Bank, Mohammad Yunus, has told the BBC his original model of micro-finance, which was intended to relieve poverty by making tiny loans, has been 'misused and abused' by some lenders.

Lesley Curwen

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus in March 2011


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Muhammed Yunus is no stranger to controversy. He sent a letter of resignation earlier this month from his job as the head of Grameen Bank, after effectively being forced out. He told me it was very painful to leave because the non-profit-making institution was his 'baby' - but he had no other option left.

He said the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, had been 'badly advised' when she accused his bank of 'sucking blood' from the poor.

Asked about a micro-finance crisis in India, where there were allegations of exorbitant interest rates and threatening tactics by lenders, he said commercial organisations which had entered the micro-credit business had 'lost track.'

Muhammad Yunus:
"The idea of micro-credit was misused. Idea of micro-credit was abused. So when micro-credit focussed on the social issues turned into money-making issues, that was a mission drift completely."

Professor Yunus denied suggestions that the broader concept of micro-credit had failed. He suggested that a separate banking system should be created for the poor, while the profit-making companies in the sector should not be allowed to call themselves micro-credit lenders.

Lesley Curwen, BBC News


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no stranger to controversy

has often found himself in situations where there has been disagreement and conflict

a letter of resignation

a formal written notification in which you say that you are leaving your job

forced out

made to feel that he had no choice and he had to leave his job, even though he didn't want to

non-profit-making institution

an organisation which provides a service and doesn't plan to make more money than it spends


extremely high

threatening tactics

suggesting that there will be very bad consequences if payments aren't made, for example physical violence

lost track

were not following the original plan for micro-finance

a mission drift

a gradual change in a project's priorities so that it becomes completely different from what was planned at the beginning

the broader concept of

the original idea behind

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