Creating a World Without Poverty: Muhammad Yunus

Creating a World Without Poverty: Muhammad Yunus February 27, 2009

In a speech titled “Becoming Self-Reliant—Spiritually and Physically” in the March 2009 Ensign, Elder M. Russel Ballard makes the following comment about economist Muhammad Yunus:

“…we need to appraise our own lives. How well are we listening to the Spirit? Are we living according to the eternal truths and doctrines of the restored Church of Jesus Christ? Can we effectively appraise the needs of others by the prompting of the Spirit? It impressed me that Muhammad Yunus must have been prompted by the Spirit when he organized a very unusual bank in Bangladesh, which some have said was the beginning of microfinance. When Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts to help the poor, was asked what his initial strategy would be, he responded:


‘I didn’t really have one at the time. I simply began trying to help with my own funds, then went to the banks and asked them to get involved. They refused for several stated reasons, and thus my strategy began to evolve into: ‘Whatever the bankers did, I simply did the opposite.’ The bankers would only lend to the rich. I would only lend to the poor. The bankers would only make large loans. I would only make very small loans. The bankers would only lend to men. I would only lend to women. The bankers would only lend if there was collateral. I would only lend without collateral. The bankers required extensive paperwork. I only made loans that even an illiterate could understand. The bankers required their clients to come to the bank. I took my bank to the village.’

It should be noted that the banks expected a high rate of loan defaults. Yunus expected and experienced almost none. I understand that Mr. Yunus’s bank has provided more than $4 billion in loans and is entirely self-sustaining. Surely the Spirit of the Lord guided this noble effort.”

There is much written by and about Yunus. I think the his work gives us much to consider when it comes to the issue of self-reliance and poverty in the developing (and industrialized) world. The speech he delivers below give a nice sense of his thought and humility. Watch and learn.

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