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Tools for development: the model of Grameen Bank

The Grameen Bank is a cooperative member bank that has made microcredit into a viable model for rural development.

Founded in Jobra, Bangladesh ion 1976 by the professor, economist and 2006 Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank grants micro-credits, accepts deposits and directs textile, energy and telecommunications companies, focused on development aid (Grameen Trust; Grameen Fund; Grameen Communications; Grameen Shakti/Energy; Grameen Shikkha/Education; Grameen Telecom; Grameen Knitwear Ltd; Grameen Cybernet Ltd).

The main product of Grameen Bank are the micro-credits, a loan received by groups of five individuals without the need of collateral guarantees; nevertheless, the entire group loses the opportunity to ask for more credit if one of its members fails to return the loan according to the agreement negotiated with Grameen.

This simple system guarantees that the individuals who receive the loan, mainly women, act as supervisors of their payment, since the desire to access new micro-credits motivates them to monitor the others so that the entire group returns the borrowed money.

  • 96% of the clients of Grameen Bank are women.
  • 98,85% of the credits are returned, with a total of money distributed surpassing 4.560 million euro.
  • The loan recipients own 94% of the company.  The 6% remaining is property of the government of Bangladesh.
  • The bank has 2,226 branch offices and 18,795 workers, that offer service to 71,371 towns.

Grameen Bank has created the Grameen Foundation, whose objective is to spread the experience of the Bank Grameen throughout the world.

Grameen Bank has managed to survive several crises in Bangladesh; devastating floods in 1998 caused a good part of the country to be flooded for weeks, ruining crops, destroying houses and causing epidemics from sanitary infections.

To help the recovery of the country, Grameen granted new loans that, added to those already existing for this part of the population, exceeded the payment capacity for many families.  Many micro-credit users stopped paying their quotas, even when the economic situation improved.

To address some of the problems and lessons learnt from a quarter of a century in operation, in April of 2000, Grameen began experimenting with new methodology for micro-credits.

Called “The Grameen Generalized System”, the new system, which was launched in 2001 and used in all Grameen offices since 2002, is simpler and more flexible offers four types of loan products: basic, housing, higher education and “struggling members (beggars)” loans.

  • More information about Grameen Bank, in Wikipedia.