Review and Summary of "'Creating a World Without Poverty' by Muhammad Yunus"

A Defining Work of Literature

Written by the founder of Microfinancing and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, "Creating a World Without Poverty" is Muhammad Yunus's gift to the world, addressing society's poverty issue, and how best to solve it.

Summary

In his book, Muhammad focuses primarily on the:

  • multiple aspects of human nature
  • problems with capitalism
  • society's point of view concerning the poor
  • definition of Microfinancing
  • definition of Social Business
  • challenges faced while opening the Grameen Bank
  • success of the Grameen Organizations
Muhammad breaks these issues down into several sections, specifically:
  1. One - The Promise of Social Business
  2. Two - The Grameen Experiment
  3. Three - A World Without Poverty

Section One - The Promise of Social Business

Chapter 1 - A New Kind of Business

In this chapter, Yunus introduces his idea of "social business". His reason for this introduction of a new form of business is solely because of the failure of capitalism to portray the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional personalities of humans. An interesting statistic that Yunus evidences is that, "Ninety-four percent of world income goes to 40 percent of the people, while the other 60 percent must live on only 6 percent of world income." What is important to this point is the question, "Well shouldn't the government be able to step in and equalize this proportion?" Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, Muhammad discusses this point, arguing that while government is beneficial to the majority of society, providing helpful services and opportunities, like all governing bodies, they are prone to inefficiency, slowness, and corruption. In order to combat this problem, Yunus opened the Grameen Bank, an entity capable of giving money to the poor, without the hassle of dealing with credit scores, referrals or endless processes.


Chapter 2 - Social Business: What It Is and What It Is Not

Chapter 2 begins with Yunus's declaration of social business's objectives.  In summary, Muhammad believes that social businesses should:

  • sell affordable and nutritious food to the poor and malnourished
  • provide health services to the poor
  • create affordable and renewable energies
  • and recycle garbage that would only damage the community
The main point of this chapter is promoting the benefits of social business.  In it, Yunus hopes to demonstrate the possibilities that this avenue of business holds for the global community.  Despite modern practice, social business would be different from capitalistic business (PMB's) in that investors would receive none of the dividends.  All of the profits from the business would be invested into the poor, who would purchase the same products at a discounted price.

Muhammad Yunus on Poverty

Section Two - The Grameen Experiment

Chapter 3 - The Microcredit Revolution

What I believe to be the single most significant chapter of the entire book, chapter 3 deals with subjects ranging from the biographical information of Muhammad to the definition of Microfinancing.

The chapter begins with a short synopsis of the life of Muhammad prior to his founding of the Grameen Bank. What is most important about this chapter is the dealing with Microfinancing's definition, the problems with Microfinancing, and "The Sixteen Decisions".

Microfinancing is defined two ways:

  • Poverty-focused programs - focuses on providing those without significant funds or resources services that can help to alleviate social and economic pressure. These programs will charge less than 15% when giving out credit.
  • Profit-maximizing programs - focuses specifically on the generation of revenue, charging interests rates much greater than 15%.

The single greatest problem with the theory of microfinancing is finding sources to fund the operations. With no return on the investments, it is difficult to persuade others to forever give up their money. Yunus's answer to this is that those with surplus amounts, looking to relieve themselves of moral pressure and help those less fortunate will step out on their own to help.
Finally, Muhammad's "Sixteen Decisions" are merely the rules that lendees must abide by while participating in the loaning system. The importance of this aspect of the chapter is that it demonstrates that while borrowers are entrusted with credit, money is not merely thrust upon them. There are expectations and obligations to be met.

Chapters 4-6:

During these chapters, Muhammad merely groups together the many experiences and lessons that he has learned from the poor. Specific to these chapters, Yunus exposes to his readers the personalities of the poor, showing that the underprivileged are just like everyone else.
Also specific to these chapters are the many subdivisions that should be made available to the less privileged.

Examples include:

  • food companies
  • credit companies
  • communication companies
  • energy companies
  • clothing companies
  • and informational companies

Chapter 7 - One Cup of Yogurt at a Time

Featuring the social business Grameen Danone, this chapter focuses in on how Muhammad was able to cultivate a nutritious and cheap yogurt for the young boys and girls of poverty stricken Bangladesh communities.
What is great about this chapter is that is identifies several methods used to cheapen subsidize products for the poor, while also providing methods on how best to capitalize on wealthy communities.

Section Three - A World Without Poverty

Summary:

Chapter 8 - Broadening the Marketplace

Muhammad deals with how best to publicize a cause, emphasizing the use of radio, TV, newspapers and online forums.  Provides many other excellent methods on how to create attention towards a topic.

Chapter 9 - Information Technology, Globalization, and a Transformed World

Yunus discusses how the age of new technology being discussed today should be utilized toits full advantage to help the poor.  Several methods he proposes for Information Technology are:

  • integrating the poor into the global market
  • promote the employment of foreign workers in need of jobs
  • and the education of the poor through online programs.
Chapter 10 - Hazards of Prosperity
Muhammad discusses how, even in this day and age of advanced technology, there will always be the problem of there being too many people, too few resources, and not enough care.
Chapter 11 - Putting Poverty in Museums
In the final chapter, Yunus describes his dream of once and for all, ending poverty.  In this chapter, he writes of his plan to keep the remnants of poverty locked away in museums once the problem is eliminated, using these places to remind those of the graces that society is granted everyday.

Microfinaning in the Works

These three own a small grocery business which, thanks to a loan from a local microcredit agency, has recently been able to reach a community twice the size it has been dealing with.
These three own a small grocery business which, thanks to a loan from a local microcredit agency, has recently been able to reach a community twice the size it has been dealing with.

A 5-Star Book

I believe that for those who are seeking to wipe the scar of poverty from the face of the planet, this book is essential to any collection.

For me, this book has provided numerous examples for how to deal with the poor.  It has also provided the inspiration and motivation behind a new project which I will be starting soon, in order to help the poor within my own community.

Even if you do not feel you have the time to involve yourself heavily within the processes of community improvement, I highly recommend this to those interested in a better tomorrow, as Muhammad's ideas will enlighten you to a state of greater awareness and knowledge of the global community that we live in today.

5 comments

Christine 4 years ago

Put poverty in museums! I agree!

Poverty is a curse - it's not from God.

The mind of Nations needs to be transformed!


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Goodpal 2 years ago

We need to go back to fundamentals of economics and add elements of fairness and sense of responsibility towards the society and nature. Globalization should not mean giving entry to global corporate houses into poor countries so that they can exploit cheap labor and natural resources to beef up their bottom lines. It should also mean sharing their expertise and knowledge with the host poor country and its people.

The rule of current business need changing so that the "possessive capitalism" is converted into "distributive capitalism." Social business points to the right direction.


Chiana 21 months ago

When you think about it, that's got to be the right anrsew.


Bruna 21 months ago

Thanks for that! It's just the answer I neeedd.


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Goodpal 21 months ago

Poverty can only be sent to the museums if we turn capitalism into "social capitalism" that makes it responsibility for the larger good of the society. It means following a social goal alongside maximizing monetary profit. Capitalism must not exist just to make rich richer.

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