Support Muhammad Yunus for Congressional Gold Metal


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Professor Muhammad Yunus is being recommended for the Congressional Gold Metal. This paper describes the details.

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Support Muhammad Yunus for Congressional Gold Metal

  1. 1. Honoring Professor Muhammad Yunus with the Congressional Gold Metal And Supporting the expansion of Microcredit in the United States Why should I support Muhammad Yunus receiving the Congressional Gold Metal and microcredit?  Professor Muhammad Yunus is the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, leading visionary of microcredit and founding and ongoing managing director of Grameen Bank.  Microcredit is a proven way to help situationally poor people escape the bonds of poverty and improve their quality of life.  It is a hand up rather than a hand out. It is a loan rather than a donation. Loans help people escape the bonds of poverty. Donations continue to keep people in the bondage of poverty.  Microcredit is the ultimate capitalistic form of helping others. It does not require (nor does it normally allow) funding from the government and our taxes. Properly managed microcredit becomes self sustainable in a reasonable period of time (typically 1 – 2 years) – allowing the Microfinance Institution to escape the constant demand of fundraising and finance future loans from the interest received on previous loans.  Money is constantly recycled. Unlike donations which are gone immediately after the donation is made, microcredit loans are repaid and that same money can be recycled for additional loans which provides much better leverage of the money.  Microcredit meets equally the philosophy of the most conservative to the most liberal people/voters and politicians.  The only thing required of government is that they create laws/regulations which allow microcredit to work to its fullest potential.  Microcredit provides elected officials a way to help make a difference in the United States and world through helping alleviate poverty through the best of capitalism while not requiring any funding from taxpayers and government. Surely the support of elected officials of this program will please their constituency – who will want to encourage Grameen America and microcredit to come into their communities. What is the Congressional Gold Metal? This is the highest honor that the United States can bestow on someone other than the Metal of Honor which is only conferred on military people. The award requires the approval of two thirds of the members of both the Senate and House of Representatives. What would happen if Muhammad Yunus received the Congressional Gold Medal?  Professor Yunus would be honored with the highest civilian award that the United States presents. The same award that other Nobel Peace Prize winners such as The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela received.  Professor Yunus would be invited to make a speech before a joint session of the United States Congress which would bring focus on his pioneering work to eradicate poverty throughout the world and particularly on the recently launched microfinance program in the United States called Grameen America. What are Professor Yunus’ ties to the United States?  Came first to U.S. on an Eagle Scout program in 1955  Received PhD degree in economics from Vanderbilt University in 1971 - studying on a Fulbright Scholarship.  Taught economics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. 1969 – 1972  Seven U.S. Universities have conferred Honorary Doctorate Degrees upon Professor Yunus. (He has also received 24 Honorary Doctorate Degrees from 15 other countries.)  Founding Board Member Grameen Foundation (USA)  Lectured hundreds of times throughout the United States and the world.  Received innumerable awards in the United States as well as throughout the world. Grameen Bank -  Inspired in 1976 when Yunus and his economics class at Chittagong University went into the local village to try to help overcome the poverty and starvation that was going on from a famine.
  2. 2.  Yunus loaned a total of $27 to 42 women who needed the money to escape the control of loan sharks and to work their way out of poverty. The women repaid and thus started microcredit.  Yunus expanded this program through personal loan guarantees that influenced the banks to loan to the poor.  In 1982 Yunus founded and became the first Managing Director of Grameen (Village) bank.  As of mid 2009, Grameen Bank has loaned over a cumulative $8 billion to 8 million, people, 97% of which are women who have a repayment rate of over 98%.  All of these loans are for income generation – creating and/or increasing the size of a small business.  Grameen Bank is currently 95% owned by the poor (the balance owned by the Bangladesh government), all Grameen borrowers are stock holders in the bank and nine of the twelve members of the Board of Directors are Grameen borrowers.  Bangladesh, once the world’s poorest major country (currently 150 million population) is on track to become the first country to meet the millennium goal of cutting poverty in half - starting in 1999 and meeting the goal by 2015.  Grameen Trust, the international arm of Grameen Bank has replicated the Grameen system in 38 countries and 144 total replications.  Grameen Trust has launched a Grameen Bank replication in the United States called Grameen America.  The Grameen Bank microfinance program has been self sustaining since 1995 and has not accepted any donations or loans since that time.  Grameen Bank has 25 total companies managing programs in telecom, health, education, energy, etc. Grameen America -  Launched in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York and managed by Grameen Trust – starting January 2008.  According to US Census figures, some 36 million people lived in poverty in the United States in 2005. Among these poor persons, 8.7 million were first-generation immigrants and their family members. At a macro level, 20.4 million of the nation’s 36 million poor are women and 13 million of these women are in what the US Census Bureau has accepted as “deep poverty”. Of that number, 9.8 million are single mothers who are by far the poorest group with 38 percent living below the poverty line. This compares to 11 percent of all Americans who live below the poverty threshold.  Grameen America is a 501c3 Non-Profit that attracts grants, private contributions, loans and equity investments to support its initial development. Over time, Grameen America has been designed to become a national business that is self-sustaining and does not rely on grants or contributions for its operations.  Grameen America in May 2009 opened a second office in Omaha, Nebraska. Once the Queens pilot program is proven successful, Grameen America intents to create at least 50 more Grameen Banks throughout the United States. It takes $2 - 5 million, raised by the local community to entice Grameen America to create a Grameen Bank in any given community.  Grameen America’s customers are individuals who fall below the poverty line and do not have access to mainstream credit. They are predominantly women, though the company also serves men.  Typical Grameen America loan sizes are $500 to $3,000 and the interest rate is 15% declining balance.  Each borrower is also required to save money on a regular basis.  All loans are for income generation – creating and or expanding small businesses.  To date (July 2009) Grameen America has loaned out a total of $1.5 million to 600 women with a current repayment rate of over 99.5% Reuters article on Grameen America - Jan-2009+MW20090115 How can a United States Senator or Congressman support this program? If you have already signed on to these bills – encourage your fellow Senators and Congressman to do so. If you have not already signed on: Senators – join the 66 bipartisan co-sponsors (only four more needed) d111:SN00846:@@@N of S.846 Congressmen – join the 93 bipartisan co-sponsors - who have signed on to HR-2000
  3. 3. Marty Jenkins – August 11, 2009,