on October 26, 2003
I can only agree with the other reviews of this book, but I would like to add that anyone who appreciates what Yunus has done might also read 'The Mystery of Capitalism' by Hernando de Soto. Both de Soto and Yunus underline the importance of using market-based mechanisms to alleviate poverty at the grass-roots level (de Soto suggests giving squatters and illegal workers legal title to the land they occupy and the goods they have so they can use them as collateral to raise capital and receive infrastructure). P.J. O'Rourke makes the same point in several places, but he is writing from a quasi-comedic point of view.
If the past 25 years of history has been about anything, it is about the bankruptcy of the command economy. Warts and all, market-based solutions are the only way forward. The ideas of Yunus and de Soto are, above all, practical - which is probably why policymakers will overlook them in favour of big-money projects, grand pronouncements, and other things that don't work.
on March 1, 2004
The story of the Grameen bank is an excellent example of how social change initiatives can be combined with government and private industry support to acheive a greater outcome than the organization could acheive by itself. Yunus provides an excellent chronicle of his bank's formation as well as explaining its principles. Highly recommended for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship or social change. The only shortcomings are: 1) as a finance person, I would like to have read more about the operational side of the banks relative to their commercial competitors - what specific factors enabled them to be so successful (other than the broad social factors he identifies)? 2) Need more information about how these types of programs can be applied to industrialized nations such as the US.