Sunday, January 27, 2008

Capitalism for the Poor?

Recently I heard an interview with Muhammad Yunus where he talked about his new book, Creating a World Without Poverty. Yunus is one of the pioneers of microcredit, which is the "extension of very small loans (microloans) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty". He also won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

The idea is that these microloans help poor folks to get out of debt patterns and to bootstrap making money. These loans are often given to collectives of women, who are more likely to pay them back.

It's such a cool idea, and very exciting that it apparently works. I don't really know anything much about Yunus or his work, but I'm really interested to read his new book and see what big ideas he's been having.
Bill Gates has recently talked about a new kind of "creative capitalism" from businesses to help improve the lives of the poor. (Maybe Gates is trying to redeem himself.)

Most of his examples sound very similar to what Yunus was talking about in the interview. Maybe they're working together? We can all hope it's not a new kind of "Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish" tactic.

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