by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The excitement Grameen created encouraged me to expand, so I went to Bangladesh’s central bank to ask for the legal authority to create a bank for the poor. The government agreed, eventually passing a law that did just that. But the law included a stipulation: the bank could not operate in urban areas. …
… Once we grew, I realized I had made a mistake. There were many people who needed our help but couldn’t get it. We tried to go back and change the law, and in 2007 the government agreed. Yet the next administration reversed the decision. …
… I’m no longer running Grameen Bank; the government forced me to step down earlier this year on the grounds that I was 11 years past retirement age. (In agreeing to the law that created the bank, we gave the government the authority to approve our managing director, which was my former title. That was another big mistake.)
I have, however, learned my lesson. Though Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is still banned from helping the urban poor, I’ve since started a number of similar projects around the world.
This time around, we’re not restricting ourselves.
How many more people might Yunus and his colleagues have helped without the burden of unnecessary government regulation?