x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Aid for microlender Grameen

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development reaches an agreement with the Nobel Prize-winning economist Prof Muhammad Yunus to fund small businesses in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, signs a memorandum of understanding with Prof Muhammad Yunus.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, signs a memorandum of understanding with Prof Muhammad Yunus.

ABU DHABI // The emirate has reached an agreement with the Nobel Prize-winning economist Prof Muhammad Yunus to fund small businesses in Bangladesh. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see it provide funds to the Grameen Bank, founded and run by Prof Yunus, who has pioneered the concept of microcredit in the South Asian country.

Prof Yunus said the businesses that would be supported by the fund were "a different category from the businesses you are familiar with". "This is a fund to support such initiatives in health care, the environment, the empowerment of women and many other areas that need change," he said. Once the projects are in operation, the money will be returned to the fund for use in other schemes. Prof Yunus founded the bank in 1976 to provide microcredit to poor people, enabling them to start businesses and improve their lives.

It was incorporated as a for-profit, specialised bank for the poor in 1983 and now serves more than six million Bangladeshi families with microcredit, microsavings, microinsurance and other services. It is owned by the borrowers and has been a model for microfinance institutions worldwide. In 2006, Prof Yunus and the bank won the Nobel Peace Prize. Fawzeia al Mubarak, director of loans and equity at the fund, said the agreement was part of the fund's aim of "limiting the effects of socioeconomic problems that affect developing countries".

A separate MoU was reached between Grameen and Zayed University to promote exchange programmes, with some Emirati students likely to visit Bangladesh to learn how the bank operates. Prof Yunus signed the MoU with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the university's chancellor. "It's not about research, it's about action," Prof Yunus said. "Young people should learn on the ground rather than from bookish research. They will visit us in Bangladesh and see how these ideas can be implemented, how new ideas can be brought in."

* The National