Peace Prize to Pioneer of Loans to Poor No Bank Would Touch
October 14, 2006
By CELIA W. DUGGER

A Bangladeshi economist, Muhammad Yunus, and the bank he founded 30 years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday for pioneering work in giving tiny loans to millions of poor people no commercial bank would touch — destitute widows and abandoned wives, landless laborers and rickshaw drivers, sweepers and beggars.

The Nobel Committee praised Mr. Yunus, 66, and the Grameen Bank for making microcredit, as the loans are called, a practical solution to combating rural poverty in Bangladesh and inspiring similar schemes across the developing world.

“Microcredit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions,” the committee said in announcing the prize.

Mr. Yunus has long been an influential champion of the idea that even the most impoverished people have the drive and creativity to build small businesses with loans as small as $12, and Grameen Bank has dedicated itself to helping the poorest of the poor.

The borrowers used the money to buy milk-giving cows, or bamboo to craft stools, or yarn to weave into stoles, or incense to sell in stalls, among myriad other money-making schemes.

Reached in Dhaka, Bangladesh, by telephone yesterday, Mr. Yunus recalled the day in 1976 when he reached into his own pocket to give his first loan, $27, to 42 villagers living near Chittagong University where he said he was then teaching “elegant theories of economics.” The borrowers invested the money and repaid him in full, though they had no collateral and signed nothing.

He said he asked himself that day, “If you can make so many people so happy with such a small amount of money, why shouldn't you do more of it?”

Still, over the years, Mr. Yunus faced skeptics and detractors, as it became clear that microcredit loans, alluring as they were, were not by themselves a panacea for poverty.

Some in the microfinance business have questioned the Grameen Bank's focus on serving the poorest, arguing the industry would grow faster and have more impact if it aimed at a wider pool of borrowers, including those struggling just above the poverty line.

Others have sometimes criticized what they see as Grameen's unconventional accounting practices (which Mr. Yunus said yesterday were fully transparent) — or maintained that Grameen should have been more of a leader in combining microcredit with health and education services, or in lending to poor people who need money not to start businesses, but to pay their bills, or cover their children's school fees.

But in interviews yesterday, Mr. Yunus's skeptics and fans alike credited him and Grameen with helping to fundamentally change the way the world saw the potential of poor people and to popularize the movement to provide financial services to the poor.

“Yunus was one of the early visionaries who believed in the idea of poor people as viable, worthy, attractive clients for loans,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, who heads the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a research institution supported by microfinance donors. “That simple notion has put in motion a huge range of imitators and innovators who have taken that idea and run with it, improved on it, expanded it.”

Or, as the Nobel committee put it: “Yunus's long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision cannot be realized by means of microcredit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing effort to achieve it, microcredit must play a major part.”

The prize was another that fell under a broader definition of peace, awarded by the committee not for traditional conflict resolution, but rather development work, and followed the 2004 award to a Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari
Maathai.

Indeed, in the decades since Mr. Yunus's first loan, microcredit has become one of the most popular antipoverty strategies in the world. Last year, more than 100 million people received small loans from more than 3,100 institutions in 130 countries, according to Microcredit Summit, a Washington-based nonprofit advocacy group that Mr. Yunus helped found. The average loan from Grameen Bank was
$130.

Over the years, the movement to provide financial services to the poor has become more capacious, stressing the need for services beyond loans — for safe places to save small amounts of money, for crop and life insurance, for inexpensive ways to transfer money earned in distant cities and foreign countries to families back home.

In the 1970's, when Mr. Yunus was getting started, the idea that poor people were a good credit risk seemed far-fetched. The United States Agency for International Development had conducted a global survey of banking services in poor communities and found failure after failure, said Jonathan J. Morduch, an economics professor at New York University who co-wrote a book on microcredits.

Many of the lenders then were state-owned banks that gave credit to politically connected elites rather than the poor people they were supposed to serve. And often at election time, vote-seeking politicians pressed the banks to forgive loans wholesale, leaving the institutions in terrible financial shape.

In 1974, Mr. Yunus, trained as an economist at Vanderbilt University, found himself teaching economics at Chittagong University when Bangladesh was struck by famine. “I decided I must do something,” he said. He began working in nearby villages, among them Jobra, where he made his first loan in 1976.

He said he tried to persuade commercial banks to give loans to poor people who had no assets and had always been dependent on local moneylenders. But the bankers only did so when he personally co-signed as a guarantor.

Mr. Yunus's new model of banking for the poor had several unusual features, Professor Morduch said. Grameen lent to groups of five people, who helped ensure that each member repaid his or her share. It lent not only to farmers, but also to laborers and women who had a knack for crafts and shopkeeping. And it required borrowers to repay their loans in manageable, bite-sized weekly installments.

“He proved the impossible: that the poor were bankable,” Professor Morduch said.


But Mr. Yunus's approach went beyond giving the poor economic opportunity to seeking deeper social change, said Amartya Sen, who, like Mr. Yunus, is a Bengali, an economist and a Nobel prize winner.

Mr. Sen, a professor at Harvard, noted that Grameen's loans had gone overwhelmingly to women, giving financial clout to women who had little power in Bangladeshi society and often lived cloistered in their homes.

In the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of Bangladesh, Mr. Yunus's approach also offered hope and ideas to compete with the allure of fundamentalist Islamic causes.

“It's a very secular movement,” Professor Sen said, “very egalitarian, market friendly and socially radical.”

Those who have watched Mr. Yunus over the years remarked on his gifts as a salesman — his personal warmth, his talent for telling a story, his sheer ability to charm an audience. Those qualities were very much on display last month when he participated in a panel at a Sheraton hotel in New York during Bill Clinton's gathering of international do-gooders.

The theme was “Building a Sustainable Future,” and Mr. Yunus told about how Grameen gave loans to beggars. He made hundreds of rich people — many of them looking for causes to support — laugh out loud and also tugged at their heartstrings.

“All we are doing is telling beggars that, well, since you go house to house begging, would you like to take some merchandise with you, some cookies, some candy, something?” he asked a crowd that hooted with delight at this clever notion.

“A typical loan for a beggar is something like $12,” he said. “With $12, she has a basket of merchandise she carries around and goes house to house.”

“Today, we have more than 80,000 beggars in the program,” he said. “Many of them have already quit begging completely.”

At that, the audience erupted in a sustained burst of applause. Mr. Yunus beamed.



穆罕默德.尤努斯——他敢把钱借给乞丐
金羊网-新快报 2006-10-15

他说,地球上的每个人都有可能和有权利过上体面的生活。他和他的格莱珉银行已经向世人证实,哪怕是最穷的穷人,也可以为自身的发展做出努力。这适用于任何文化和文明。

10月13日,诺贝尔和平奖委员会把今年的诺贝尔和平奖颁给了孟加拉国银行家穆罕默德.尤努斯博士及其创办的孟加拉格莱珉银行,委员会在颁奖文告中称,“持久的和平只有在大量的人口找到摆脱贫困的方法后才会成为可能”,无疑,尤努斯博士就是帮助人们实现这一永久目标的人。

实际上,属于尤努斯的传奇还有很多:他是美国名校出身的经济学博士,却痛恨毫无人情味的西方经济学;他曾是大学教授,却称以往的教育是人们转变观念最大的障碍;他累计放贷53亿美元,惠及400万穷人,却从没有对他们施舍过一分一毫;他曾与比尔.盖茨和杰克.韦尔奇一起被评为“全球最具影响力的25位经济领袖”。也许可以这么概括他的一生:一生以帮助穷人自立为己任……


大学教授的困惑
“人们极其饥饿,作为一个经济学家,我的工具盒里并没有能让我解决这种情况的工具。”

穆罕默德•尤努斯1940年6月28日生于孟加拉国吉大港的一个宝石加工场主的家庭。出生于殷实之家的尤努斯于 20 世纪 60 年代在美国 Vanderbilt 大学取得经济学博士学位之后,如愿以偿回到故土成为一名大学教授。

但是当时的孟加拉尚未建国,社会动荡,大多数国民在贫困中挣扎。多年后尤努斯在接受美国电视台 PBS 的采访时,这样描述自己的心情:“人们遭遇了一场很严重的饥荒,人们极其饥饿,我却无能为力。作为一个经济学家,我的工具盒里并没有能让我解决这种情况的工具。”最后他决定“忘掉工具盒吧。作为一个有良知的人,我可以出去帮助别人”。

1974年,孟加拉国独立后的第三年,他认识了21岁的苏菲娅,她是一个有着3个孩子的母亲。苏菲娅靠制作竹椅养活全家,她蹲在地上做竹椅,手指上都是老茧。她能制作出非常精美的竹器,但是她一天仅能赚2美分。因为她每天需要25美分来买原料,但是她没有。于是,她从中间商那里借钱买材料,再按照规定的价格把成品卖给他。“她的劳动几乎是一无所获,我们看到的是一种奴隶制,钱都给中间商赚走了。”

事实上苏菲娅的情况并不是唯一。尤努斯列了一张和苏菲娅处于相似处境的人的名单,一共有42个名字,而他们所需的,从高利贷漩涡中挣扎出来的金额数仅为27美元。尤努斯深感震惊。“我们在课堂上讨论经济发展,所接触的都是动辄投资上百万美元的项目。但我实际上看到的是,人们急需的不是这百万金钱,他们只需要很小很小一笔钱。”


创建乡村银行
“如果用商业手法来处理,即使是借钱给穷人的银行也可以盈利。”

“我厌恶自己束手无策。”于是,尤努斯自己掏出了27美元,人们如同遭遇奇迹一般欢天喜地地接受了。

看着大家的反应,尤努斯并没有以救世主自居。他想到的是:“如果你可以用这么少的钱让大家这么欢喜,为什么不为他们做得更多,为什么不为更多的人做得更多?”

他首先想到自己可以成为连接穷人们和银行的纽带,所以他跑到银行恳求银行家们借钱给这些穷人们。“他们几乎晕倒了。”银行家们异口同声地向尤努斯解释,银行不能贷款给穷人,因为穷人没有信
用。

尤努斯和银行家们展开了长达6个月的辩论,最后,银行勉强同意在尤努斯做担保人的情况下将金钱贷出。“他们不停地说我借出去的钱不可能得到回报,我要为穷人承担债务;而我则说‘我不知道,但是让我们试试看吧’。所以我试了,然后我赢了。”

与别的慈善家不同的是,这位年轻的经济学博士嗅到了事件背后的商业味道。“我完全改变了自己的想法。我认为如果你用商业手法来处理这些事,它的规模可以如你设想般巨大。因为你所挣的钱足够支付你的所有成本。你不用依靠任何人。你不依赖(当时)孟加拉首都限量供应的物质,因为这是商业上挣的钱,商业上的金钱是无限的。然后,你就可以(用盈利)帮助更多的人
。”

于是,在1976年,当他的贷款范围扩大到100个村庄时,他成立了自己的银行,取名为“乡村银行”(GrameenBank,孟加拉语“村子”的意思)。


96% 的贷款给妇女
他隔着高墙大喊:“请你贷点款吧。”

乡村银行自创立之日起,尤努斯就给自己制定了目标———确保一半的客户是妇女。然而,孟加拉国是一个保守的伊斯兰教国家,妇女地位低下,不但平时几乎足不出户,必须出门时也会把脸遮得严严实实。在这种情况下,让妇女从乡村银行贷款,并不是一个容易达到的目标。为此,尤努斯做出了很多努力。最初,他主动上门招揽生意,隔着高墙大喊:“请你贷点款吧!”他还因此被人误认为是在勾引良家妇女,多次受到人身攻击和威胁。但是尤努斯并没有放弃。

他认为他和他的银行,有责任帮妇女战胜传统文化对她们的束缚。很快他就发现,妇女们对贷款的有效使用比男人们强多了。同样的金额,贷给她们比贷给男人们给家庭带来了更大的好处。所以,尤努斯慢慢调整了银行的贷款策略并给予妇女优先贷款的权利。现在乡村银行的400万客户里,96%都是妇女。


不仅仅是借钱
“我们的工作不仅仅是借钱还钱,然后坐等环境的改变。”

妇女们通过从银行得到的贷款,添置生产工具、为子女交纳学费、改善家庭伙食等,不仅提高了整个家庭的生活质量,也提高了自己在家庭中的地位。更重要的是,妇女靠自己的聪明才智自己管理、统筹贷款,发掘出自己从未发现的才能,慢慢赢得身边人的信赖和尊重,对于推动孟加拉国严重的男尊女卑思想的转变,起着非常积极的作
用。

“我们的工作不仅仅是借钱还钱,然后坐等环境的改变,我们同样组织大家讨论她们所面临的社会问题和解决之道。”贷款的妇女们每周都会参加聚会,交流脱贫过程中的教训和经验、新闻甚至国家大事。女性的自我意识在觉醒,谈论时政不再是男人们的专利。应用手头的金钱和能力,她们也开始在政治决策上发出自己的声音。

孟加拉国每年6月都有一次年度大选。2003年,女性选民第一次超过了男性的人数,人们普遍认为,以格莱珉银行为首的小额贷款银行攻不可没。


贷款给26000名乞丐
“因为你不可能比乞丐更穷,那是生存的最后境界。”

乡村银行的小额贷款模式受到了很多人的关注。当中大部分是赞扬,但是也有一些质疑,认为“银行只关注到穷人里面的上层阶级”。于是,尤努斯于2004年推出了针对路边乞丐的扶贫计划。

该项目无偿为乞丐们提供9美元贷款,乞丐们可以用这笔钱在街头摆个糖果摊子,或者卖点小孩子的玩具,这样就可以摆脱挨家挨户乞讨的命运。一开始,尤努斯预计将会有4000到5000个乞丐参加这个项目,不过,他显然低估了这种“自食其力”项目的感召力,到2004年末,一共有2.6万个乞丐拿到了贷款。而值得庆幸的是,尤努斯这次又成功了。尽管项目开展时间还不长,但是近60%的贷款已被偿清。

乞丐们挺争气,他们大部分都成功转变为小贩,并感受到生活的快乐与社会的尊重。

以前从未为乞丐打开的门,现在敞开了。乞丐们有了生存的工具。用乞丐们的话来说:“人们见了我们不躲了,好多人还主动搬来板凳,请我们坐一会儿,人活着又有了尊严。”


“鸟瞰”和“虫眼”
“你飞得高了看得就不清楚了。”

当得知自己获奖的消息后,尤努斯说:“这对我们、对格莱珉银行、对所有贫困的国家和世界上所有的穷人,都是最好的消息。”他为此深感鼓舞,但也承认“对于我来说最大的挑战就是改变人们的观念”。

也许是曾经作为优等生的感同身受,他认为人们通常只用一种思维方式思考,很难突破。“如果你在大学里是一个优秀的学生,那么你已经成为你最喜欢的教授的思想传播者,往往这些人就成了新思想传播的阻力。”

尤努斯上述一段感想是建立在其经历过“头脑风暴”的基础上的。他曾经非常沮丧,因为他意识到他的学术背景不但不能帮助他解决现实问题,反而会误导他走向和现实相反的方向。这被他称为“鸟瞰”和“虫眼”。

作为一个经济学博士,他在学校所接受的教育就是学会怎么“鸟瞰”所有形势,“因为学校教会了你怎么看到所有事情,所以就被称为是教育”。但是在和各个村庄的穷人们的实际交往
中,尤努斯意识到“鸟瞰”并不能洞悉所有细节,“你飞得高了看得就不清楚了”。

当他试图拼凑其所有故事时,由于细节的缺失直接导致了真相的模糊不清。于是尤努斯开始相信“虫眼”的视角(即对细节的把握)才是合乎逻辑的。他认为,必须从小处着手,因为人们的生活正是建立在细节之上。他说,在“虫眼”的审视下,反而能够看清楚身边所有情况———上百万的项目投资对人们实际生活的改善并没有直接的帮助,他们需要的也许还不到1美元。

地球上的每个人都有可能和有权利过上体面的生活。穆罕默德•尤努斯和他的格莱珉银行已经向世人证实,哪怕是最穷的穷人,也可以为自身的发展做出努力。这适用于任何文化和文明。


几大热门落选,预测往往不准
诺贝尔和平奖在1901年设立,以瑞典人阿尔佛雷德.诺贝尔的姓氏命名,奖项可以由三个人共享,可以是个人也可以是组织,但他们必须与同一事业有关。

根据诺贝尔的遗嘱,和平奖应该奖给“为促进民族团结友好、取消或裁减常备军队以及为和平会议的组织和宣传尽到最大努力或作出最大贡献的人”。而在和平奖传统中,相比停止冲突的当事双方,冲突的斡旋者获奖的机会会比较小。因为冲突双方经常是拿自己的生命或者政治前途冒险。最近一次因调停冲突而获奖的人是美国前总统卡特,他在2002年获奖。2005年诺贝尔和平奖由联合国国际原子能机构及其总干事、埃及人巴拉迪获得,这一年也是广岛和长崎原子弹爆炸60周年。

今年共有 191 名候选人获得诺贝尔和平奖提名,曾促成签订印尼亚齐省和平协议的芬兰前总统马尔蒂.阿赫蒂萨里、澳大利亚资深和平斡旋者加雷思.埃文斯和印度尼西亚总统苏西洛.班邦.尤多约诺都被认为是获奖的大热门。但最终没有一人中选。

挪威国际事务协会主席路甘德在获奖名单公布前就曾表示,人们对这一奖项的预测经常出错,他说:“我发现今年候选人涉及的领域有所扩大。”没想到,今年和平奖的获得者果真从一个以前很少涉及的行业——银行业——诞生了。看来,诺贝尔和平奖的传统也在随着时代发展悄悄发生着变革。今年12月10日,挪威首都奥斯陆将举行盛大的诺贝尔奖颁奖典礼。“我一定会去(领奖)”,尤努斯兴奋地说。



孟加拉“穷人银行”带来的启发
北京晨报 2006-10-18
  
10月13日,瑞典皇家科学院将2006年诺贝尔和平奖授予孟加拉国的穆罕默德•尤努斯 (Muhammad Yunus) 及其创建的孟加拉乡村银行(也称格莱珉银行,Grameen Bank),以表彰他们“自下层为建立经济和社会发展所做的努力”。

尤努斯最大的贡献在于他推广的小额信贷模式,这种对象仅限于穷人、额度很小(通常只有几十美元)、无须抵押的贷款,不仅帮助数百万人成功脱贫,打破了借贷必须担保和抵押的传统,而且也为他赢得“穷人的银行家”的美誉。

然而,通过乡村银行,穷人们摆脱的不仅仅是贫困的枷锁。正如尤努斯所言,“对于我来说最大的挑战就是改变人们的观念。”除了让那些认为“穷人没有信用”的银行家闭嘴外,他还通过无须担保的贷款,将“自立”的理念植入人们的心中。

事实上,这位一生以帮助穷人为己任的人,却从没有对乞丐施舍过一分一毫。相反,通过乡村银行发放的小额信贷,乞丐们摆脱挨家挨户乞讨的命运,开始在街头摆个糖果摊子或者卖点小孩子的玩具。

就像他在自传中讲的,如果我们把给予富人的相同或相似的机会给予穷人的话,他们是能够使自己摆脱贫困的。“穷人本身能够创造一个没有贫困的世界”。

更重要的,尤努斯和他的“穷人银行”也为我们上了意义深刻的一课。与孟加拉国相似的是,中国至今还有一些人生活在贫困线之下。而比起逢年过节送米送面的传统救助模式,来自“穷人银行”的成功让我们认识到,消除贫困本身也是富有技巧和创意的经济行为。如果给穷人贷款,他们能在外界的帮助下实现有生产力的自我就业,从而实现“低收入-贷款-投资-增加收入-更多投资-更多收入”的良性循环。

对于“穷人银行”的成功,我们不应只停留于道德的嘉许,再一次鼓掌的同时,我们更要探究其成功背后的模式。

今年的诺贝尔和平奖得主,孟加拉国的尤努斯博士完成了一个伟大经济学证明:穷人比富人更值得信任!从这个意义上说,我甚至认为他更应该获得诺贝尔经济学奖。尤努斯博士的证明也可以被看作是一种颠覆,因为在他之前,主流经济学界的主流观点是:富人比穷人更讲信用。

这个观点在中国尤其甚嚣尘上,其所带来的一个最严重的后果,就是银行热衷于向富人提供贷款,而没有兴趣向穷人贷款。

自1976年开始,尤努斯博士从借贷27美元给42个赤贫农妇起步,推动创建了孟加拉乡村银行。这其中最值得称道的是尤努斯博士规定的贷款原则:不用任何抵押,穷人也能贷款;乞丐也能借钱,还不用支付利息。而在这样宽松的借贷条件下,贷款的偿还率却高达99.02%。博士曾深有感触地说:与那些贪污巨额银行贷款的上流社会腐败分子不同的是,穷人诚实地还贷。可见,穷人是讲信用的!

这里的奥秘可能在于:一个人如果很穷,又不被别人信任,那他就真的无法生存下去了;反过来,对一个富人来说,则无论他怎样声名狼藉,毫无信用,只要他仍然“富有
”,他就仍然可以要风得风,要雨得雨。我们经常可以在报纸的社会新闻栏里看到这样的报道:一个毫无信用的富人,完全靠混迹于各家银行之间,通过拆东墙补西墙的借贷方式,毫无廉耻地过着豪华奢侈的生活,却被各银行奉为座上宾。

如此说来,所谓“穷人不讲信用”,不过是不讲信用的富人们在以小人之心度人罢了。“穷人是讲信用的!”这是尤努斯博士的伟大证明。在今日中国,在共同富裕实现之前,如何看待穷人?是我们制定各项社会和经济政策时所必须面对的问题。


新安晚报 2006-10-17

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