At a panel discussion this morning on poverty, the Nobel Prize winning pioneer of micro-lending (and UN Foundation Board Member) Mohammed Yunis explained why he decided to take his Grameen Bank to the United States. Initially, he brought micro-lending to the United States in 1986, when then-Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton invited him to the state to help him combat rural poverty. More recently, Grameen supports the working poor right here in New York City. According to its website, Grameen supported microfinance institutions have provided over $300,000 of small loans to nearly 400 people. As with micro-lending across the world, the loans primarily go to women, and the default rate is virtually zero.
Asked why he brought his Grameen Bank to New York, Yunis replied that the city provides banking to the world, so why not to its neighbors?