Grameen Bank, a social business that Yunus founded, needed a way to measure its success in helping people rise out of poverty through microcredit. Rather than use a income benchmark (typically $2/day), they decided to go with a more practical ten-point system that described specific living conditions. Once a family had succeeded in clearing all 10 of these hurdles, then Grameen Bank considered them to have escaped from poverty. The ten points are:
- The member and her family live in a tin-roofed house or in a house worth at least $370. The family members sleep on cots or a bedstead rather than the floor.
- The member and her family drink pure water from tube-wells, boiled water, or arsenic-free water purified by the use of alum, purifying tablets, or pitcher filters.
- All of the member's children who are physically and mentally fit and above the age of six either attend of have finished primary school.
- The member's minimum weekly loan repayment installation is $3.
- All family members use a hygienic and sanitary latrine.
- All family members have sufficient clothing to meet daily needs, including winter clothes, blankets, and mosquito netting.
- The family has additional sources of income, such as a vegetable garden or fruit-bearing trees, to fall back on in times of need.
- The member maintains an average annual balance of $75 in her savings account.
- The member has the ability to feed her family three square meals a day throughout the year.
- All family members are conscious about their health, can take immediate action for proper treatment, and can pay medical expenses in the event of illness.
We live in a country where event the poorest often have TV. In Bangladesh the poor don't even have electricity. There is so much perspective to be gained by opening our eyes to the rest of the world.
Another interesting thing I've read over and over.... microloan industries have found that women are the key to raising families and communities out of poverty. They've found that when men earn extra money they spend it on themselves. When women earn the money, they spend it on their families -- housing, health of children, educating their children, etc. It is the women they loan the money too and the woman that are founding businesses and the women that are creating avenues to ending generational poverty.
Some microcredit organizations that I've been giving to over the years are Opportunity International and Kiva, though there are many more. (Thanks to Amy who gave me a gift certificate to Kiva as my Christmas Gift.) The idea of microcredit is something I get very excited about.... maybe I'll post on it another time. For now, I want to be grateful that I have poison-free water, heat, a dr. available to me, and a grocery store down the road.