Far too often, the problems that we face seem insurmountable. And then along comes an idea so revolutionary in its simplicity that it opens up a world of possibilities to the people in our world who most need that tiny seed of hope.

Enter Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen Bank and microlending.

This Saturday, FDL will host a book salon with Muhammad Yunus to discuss "Creating a World Without Poverty." The Book Salon will begin at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT 6 pm ET/3 pm PT, and I hope that everyone will join in the conversation,which promises to be enlightening and inspirational. Mr. Yunus has been a hero of mine for some time, and I hope to convey below why he should be one of yours as well.

Mr. Yunus was the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006, and his initiatives are truly life-changing for so many people around the world. So often, you read something like that and it seems like hyperbole but, in the case of Mr. Yunus, it is simply truth. For women, especially, who have struggled with their families in poverty, microlending is nothing short of a miracle that lifts up their potential, and gives them the dynamic power to change their own lives — and those of their children and communities — for the better.

Prior to Saturday’s book salon, I wanted to give a brief introduction for everyone to the work that Grameen Bank has done. Microlending has rippled out across aide to the world’s poor, and has transformed the system from one of temporary stop-gap measures and dependency to a lifetime of hope and empowerment for so many. Mr. Yunus’ new book takes the discussion even further to the concept of "social capitolism," wherein the power of individuals is coupled with corporations willing to harness their assets and power for the greater good for all of us. It is an amazing read, and a conversation well worth having for all of us.

Business Week gives an overview of the microlending program.

National Geographic profiles Muhammad Yunus.

Working as a young economics professor at Bangladesh’s University of Chittagong, Yunus lent the equivalent of U.S. $27 from his own pocket to 42 women in the village of Jobra who had a small business making bamboo furniture.

Since then, the bank he founded has made an estimated 5.7 billion dollars in loans to more than six million people in Bangladesh, 96 percent of them women.

Anyone can qualify for the loans, which average about U.S. $200.

Think about that for a moment: $200 American dollars can help change someone’s life and that of their family.

The Nobel committee has two wonderful interviews with Mr. Yunus on their website.

— FRONTLINE/World has done an entire series on social entrepreneurs worldwide that is well worth some exploration. I am especially impressed with this piece on microlending in Uganda and its impact there. PBS also has a short profile of Muhammad Yunus.

The ONE Campaign has a fantastic compilation of information on organizations and efforts to combat poverty worldwide.

To want to help others is exemplary. To find a way to do so that makes a real difference in their lives for years to come is extraordinary. But to do so in a way that makes it possible for any of us to help…and keep helping? That is a miracle.

Please join us this Saturday at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT 6 pm ET/3 pm PT for a discussion with Muhammad Yunus on Creating A World Without Poverty. It promises to be extraordinary for all of us.

(YouTube above is a speech given by Muhammad Yunus at the Skoll Forum in 2007.)

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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