Managing Director of Grameen Shikkha & Shakti
Keynote 4 – Pangkor Dialogue 2015
The Grameen Microcredit Bank, founded by Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, has helped reduced poverty, eradicate begging, improve education as well as equip homes with clean electricity. Through providing access to credit, its aim of empowering women and providing education and housing loans and other funds targeted to the poor has provided insights into implementing sustainability for inclusive growth. At the heart of the challenge for inclusive and sustainable growth is addressing poverty. Poverty gives birth to various other problems such as illiteracy, malnutrition and ill-health, etc. The poor whom are willing to change need to be provided with opportunities and leverages through their own efforts, utilising their strengths to help them survive poverty. The poor must fully utilise their capability to their advantage to improve their livelihoods and indirectly contribute to overall economic growth.
In most rural and third world countries, women are responsible for generating the economy, so they deserve due recognition and aid. The Grameen experience targeted women and provided them with financial aids along with structured monitoring indicators to assess the impacts and progress. In moving towards sustainable growth, rural and poor households are given access to affordable, clean and green energy. Additionally, mobile phones were also introduced to poor families while scholarships were given to needy students. All these helped to generate income for the poor within their own homes.
Challeges remain, however, such as the difficulty in changing the mindset of the older generation who believe women should stay at home and not work. There are also those that refuse to take up the loans, thinking that the loans would have to be repaid at a high interest rate. This requires further education of the local populace. In general, businesses could play a larger role and should not only focus on profit maximisation but also on issues of poverty, health, education, access to technology and the environment.