The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank

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One afternoon in 1976 an economics professor, taking a walk in a village in Bangladesh, met a poor woman. The woman was trying to support herself by constructing and selling bamboo stools. She earned two cents a day. When the professor asked her why her profit was so low, she explained that the only person who would lend her money to buy bamboo was the trader who purchased her final product and the price he set barely covered her costs. The professor's instinct was to open his wallet and give her some money. Then...
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One afternoon in 1976 an economics professor, taking a walk in a village in Bangladesh, met a poor woman. The woman was trying to support herself by constructing and selling bamboo stools. She earned two cents a day. When the professor asked her why her profit was so low, she explained that the only person who would lend her money to buy bamboo was the trader who purchased her final product and the price he set barely covered her costs. The professor's instinct was to open his wallet and give her some money. Then he had another thought: Why not give her a loan? That thought became the genesis of a remarkable institution: the Grameen ("Village") Bank. Today, the Grameen Bank is considered the most successful self-sustaining antipoverty program in the world. It has more than two million borrowers - 94 percent of them women - and its approach has been replicated throughout the world, including in hundreds of locations across the United States and Canada. The Price of a Dream traces the history of the Grameen Bank and in candid, vivid prose transports the reader to one of the world's most dramatic settings for a firsthand view of how this institution is helping millions of people change their lives.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Described by its founder, Muhammad Yunus, as a "socially conscious capitalist enterprise," the much-lauded Grameen Bank in Bangladesh seems to be one of the Third World's brightest success stories. By viewing poor people as potential entrepreneurs, the bank has helped village people, especially women, to better their lives in small but significant ways. Bornstein, a Canadian journalist based in New York City, provides an episodic, sometimes choppy portrait of Grameen, Yunus and some of the people whose lives have been affected by the bank. Bornstein's portrait isn't all rosy, however. He hedgingly describes conflicting opinions on whether the bank, which receives significant amounts of grants and low-cost loans, could survive on its own. And, since many American organizations have been studying Grameen, he awkwardly assays the burgeoning "microcredit" movement that aims to provide loans to the poor here. The lesson of Grameen, he concludes, is not extrapolation from abroad but the importance of seeking new solutions to and institutions for complex social problems. (May)
Library Journal
The Grameen Bank, located in Bangladesh, is an experimental financial institution born out of the vision of one man over two decades ago. Mohammad Yunus, the founder, felt that if a bank could be designed to serve the poorest people-often landless villagers-they could be trusted to manage their own money and solve their own problems. More important, Yunus felt they could become self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty. Bornstein, a Canadian journalist, interviewed many bank employees (including Yunus) and Bangladesh villagers whose lives were changed as a result of their involvement with Grameen. "This is about people managing themselves, solving their own problems, creating their own jobs," one bank official comments. Bornstein's tale is memorable and often inspirational, and he tells it exceedingly well. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Richard S. Drezen, Washington Post News Research Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
A welcome and readable account of the effort of a unique bank in Bangladesh to help that country's poor.

Bangladeshi native Muhammad Yunus came to America to study economics and returned home to aid his countrymen. So poor that it is often called "The Fifth World," Bangladesh has high poverty and birth rates and is frequently devastated by monsoons. Its thousands of villages are poor, but Yunus saw that many of the residents had real skills and came to believe that if they were provided with the means to borrow money they could find ways to support themselves. In 1975, he began what became the Grameen Bank (gram is the Bangla word for village) and distributed small loans—some for as little as five dollars—to the poorest. Most of the loan takers were women. In return, he demanded precise, weekly repayment of the loans and insisted that villagers join together in small groups so that if a member fell behind, the others would encourage her to pay her loan. Yunus kept Grameen bound to its ideals, and today the bank thrives, lending at a fair interest rate while still turning a profit. It has made loans in excess of billion and has over one thousand branch offices. The employees of Grameen have an absolute dedication to the bank, and the bank has had an enormous effect on Bangladesh. Bornstein, a journalist, does an excellent job of tracing the growth of the bank in relationship to the country's recent history. He also cogently explains why large public works projects in developing countries are frequently disasters. Yunus's view, one that he teaches to other countries as well, is that the populace of a developing nation must learn to take care of itself.

A genuinely amazing story and an interesting read in an age when aid to the poor is demonized.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195187496
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bornstein is a journalist who has written articles for Atlantic Monthly, Details, Newsday, and Science. He is author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, which was described by the Iew York Times as "must reading" for "anyone who cares about building a more equitable and therefore a more stable world."

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Table of Contents

Prologue: This Business of Bangles
Part I - The Idea
1. Fairy Tales
2. 856 Takas
3. Social Collateral
4. It Cannot Be Done
5. He Found You Under a Tree?
6. If You Want to Convince Us
Part II - The Villagers
7. Water Upon Land
8. It's All on Trust
9. Stirring the Money
10. Sabina Yasmin
11. The Center Meeting
12. It's Their Problem
13. Can You Walk Far?
14. A Petticoat
Part III - The Organization
15. We Don't Want Windows
16. Independence
17. A New Culture
18. A Natural and Better Fighter
19. If a Big Dam Breaks
20. This Is Her Factory
21. A Conversation
22. Peace of Mind
23. It Was Like a Fish Market
24. Little Checks and Big Checks
Part IV - The System
25. Laying the Foundation
26. I'm Not a Woman Anymore
27. The Logic of Grameen
28. Begum Rokeya
29. The Death of Ali Haider
30. Don't Think of These Things?
31. The Wisdom in Smallness
32. Armed with Information
Part V - The World
33. Credit as a Human Right
34. How Can You Go On with a Situation Like This?
35. An Expensive Way to Transfer Technology
36. A Risk Taker
37. A Great Strategizer
38. An Intensive Care Unit
39. Two Cyclones
40. If I Had to Become a Businesswoman
41. Oirashi's Final House
Part VI - The Future
42. The Golden Boat
43. One Thousand Doctors
44. The Luck of Manijira
45. An Infinite Amount of Work
46. She Turned Her Face to the Light
47. Struck by Lightning
48. The Price of the American Dream
49. Sociall Conscious Capitalism
50. Everywhere You Look
Author's Note

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2001

    Could not put it down....

    The writer does an excellent job potraying the poor in this book about the Grameen Bank and Bangladesh. A truly wonderful read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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