Bahrain opens microfinance bank

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Mahmood Rafique | Arab News

Published — Friday 15 January 2010

Last Update 15 January 2010 3:00 am

MANAMA: The global economic crisis is the result of “greed” and only a selfless approach will save the world, a renowned economist has said.

Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus, who is also founder of the world’s first micro-finance bank, Grameen Bank, said on Thursday a greedy global financial system and wrong capitalism structure were actually to be blamed for triggering the collapse.

Yunus, who was in Bahrain to help open the country’s pioneering Family Bank, which offers micro-finance services, said a financial system based on reality could help alleviate the suffering of poor people across the world.

He said the micro-finance model put in place at Grameen Bank actually reflected the basic spirit of the Islamic banking.

“It is people’s money that belongs to them and once it is repaid by one beneficiary, it goes to another,” he said.

“We have to redesign the structure we are operating in, which is wrong and leading to an unsustainable lifestyle. Time is also running out when it comes to saving this planet from disasters as a result of global warming,” he added.

The bank, conceived by Bahrain’s Ministry of Social Development and supported by leading financial institutions including the Grameen Trust in Bahrain, has a paid-up capital of BD5 million and an authorized capital of BD15 million.

“The bank’s main goal is to serve the low-income families in Bahrain through the promotion of microfinance, which will aid social development,” the bank’s Chief Executive Atef El-Shabrawy said.

He said the bank’s aim to provide finances to developing parts of society would add a new dimension to Bahrain’s efforts in achieving social and economic sustainability.

Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering the use of micro-credit to benefit poor entrepreneurs.

“My mission is with the intention of changing the world and not to gain anything personally from that. It is all dedicated to making a difference by addressing a social issue,” he said.

Grameen Bank, founded by Yunus, has been instrumental in offering loans to millions of poor Bangladeshis without any financial security, many of them women, and improving their standard of living by enabling them to start businesses.

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