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The first loan that was the seed of microcredits turns 45

Dhaka, Sep 19 (EFE) .- 45 years ago the now Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus granted a small loan to a poor woman that would be the seed of the creation of his own bank, Grameen Bank, with which he would formalize the microcredit system.

Mohammad Babul grew up listening to his grandmother Sufia Khatun’s stories about how her small loan led to the birth of an organization that transformed the lives of millions of poor people in Bangladesh and around the world.

“I was not yet born when it all happened, but during my childhood I heard many stories from my grandmother about the hardships she went through and how the loan (of the future) Grameen Bank helped her earn a living,” Babul, 37, told EFE , who drives an electric rickshaw or three-wheeled taxi.

Sufia, who had been abandoned by her husband with two dependent daughters, was running a small bamboo stool business near a university campus in Jobra village in southern Bangladesh when she ran into economics professor Yunus .

The woman was having a hard time making ends meet, so Yunus lent her some money, which allowed her to increase her income with the investment. Later, Sufia decided to go to a bank to request a new loan, but they made fun of her there because she did not have an endorsement, so the economist interceded.

This new loan led Sufia to expand her profits, but the banks still did not want to deal with someone like her, with few resources, so Yunus decided then to create his own system to grant money to the most disadvantaged.

So, still informally, on September 19, 1976, “the bank of the poor” was born in Jobra, with a first loan to Sufia that would be extended that year to up to ten beneficiaries.

In 1983, the Grameen Bank was incorporated into the banking system of Bangladesh to begin its formal activities, reaching in 2019 more than 9 million beneficiaries from some 81,600 localities, 97% women, with a disbursement since then of more than 25,000 million of dollars, according to bank data.

Sufia died in 1997, nine years before Yunus and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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