Sunday, October 15, 2006

Microloan inventor Yunus wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Institute went out of the box Friday as they announced this year's Peace Prize winner to Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, and Grameen Bank. In Saturday's Wall Street Journal the Norwegian Nobel Committee was quoted as saying "Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development." They get it that the world needs more economic justice which leads to peace. Ideas like microcredit are exactly the types of ideas the world needs to come up with more.

While in Uganda we just dabbled in giving out microloans to those in the villages where we worked. In 2000 my teammate, Mark Moore, worked with the largest cell phone network provider to put a phone in the home of one our village church leaders. James Okumu, an incredible church planter and evangelist, had fellow villagers come to his house in one of the most remote locations I've seen in Uganda and they would communicate with the world. They could call into the nearest town and get market prices for crops ready to be harvested and sold. This would allow them to sell their crops at the right price rather than losing money to a middleman. If there was a sickness or death they could call for help. They could make district and national level government agencies aware that they were there and communicate the issues they faced. James would charge them just over cost and they would be provided a much needed service while James had a means to help care for all (last count was around 15) his deceased siblings' orphaned children. The program was much like Grameen's Village Phone project. In hindsight, I wish we would have had more manpower and resources to do more of this. Combining information technology and innovation with the poor creates great opportunities for better living.

So here's to the inventor of this seemingly simple but very powerful idea improving the lives of hundreds of millions of the poorest people of the world.


Post a Comment

<< Home