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Monday, July 20, 2009

the number 1 question we have researched in 33 years of brands and global media - is what would the world uniquely miss if this didnt exist? - this applies to cities and countries too

here are some hot tips for 09/10 and youth ambassador 5000 dialogues

without dhaka the world would miss anychance of rediscovering community sustainability

without kenya, its unlikely youth would have been involved in ending poverty in urban slums - this is the real story of slumdog millionnaire

without madrid, microcredit wouldnt have its longest royal supporter in queen sofia who is also the first world leader to sign up for hosting a microcreditsummit - spain invites the world in 2011 to a celebration of far more importance tp every generation than london's olympics the following year

which brings us to london - will the BBC learn to explore whjat the largest social business world service could be about?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

around the world with grameen and yunus

Epicentre, Dhaka Bangladesh

Berlin, Creative Lab
Glasgow Creative lab, Grameen bank , Glasgow Caledonian trains nurses for Grameen in Dhaka
Paris home of future capitalism - grameen danone, grameen veolia, grameen credit agricole (likely to open social business finds in 2010); HEC SMBA, YunusMovie
Monaco - Prince Albert Sustainability Fund
Madrid - Queen Sofia hosts the 2011 global microcerdit summit - local Grameen expert Nazrul Chowdhury
Oslo - Nobel Prize and Nobel Museum in Dhaka

Other Most influential fan networks
London Ashden Microenergy - Lord Sainsbury's daughter, Prince Charles, BBC Broadcaster Paul Rose

Microcreditsummit - DC & Princeton

Grameen America Bank Branches:
New York Queens

Outer Boston: Grameen America (HQ & health)
DC Grameen Foundation

LA The Green Children Pop Group
LA Cal State Channel Isles

New York - Social Business Course - St Johns Uni

Austin Texas WholePlanetFoundation

Grameeb Carlos Slims - Mexico

East of balgladesh
Bangkok, AIT Yunus Centre
Rikkyo University
Kobe University
Kyushu University

what have we omitted? - suggestions welcome

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Am just back from Dhaka and co-hosting 69th birthday dialogue with muhammad yunus- our british broadcasting reporter blogs here

our party from around the world made an unaimous vote for dhaka as the number 1 city in the world offering the most sustainability solutions; I dont think yiou have lived if you haven't been to dhaka and visited grameen or brac to understand how they are trailblazing 10 times more econo,oic systems from the bottom up whereas the west's big capitals now seem to be using macroeconomics to get ever less economical

I wll be trying to blog a special series on which cities are connecting most around bangladesh as the only true sustainability model that I have ever appaised as a mathematian - if you are in a rush you can see some europena connections at my fan web ; back in dhaka the newest web is

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And so 8 years of white house game of blind man's buff ends

Nobody whose prime time last thursday across the united states of Globally Burning Bush's America could miss the denoument

GENERAL POST -its all change my land of the brave and true: every city that compounded its greatest irreposnsibility to humanity is now free to bend the curve

let's start with new york - you gave the world 100 times to expensive banking now lets make amends - go to ObamaUni and do not pass go until the free market of ending poverty is what transparency of world trade honors

or read on if you want to read the celebration from UK's senior economist, village saint james 1 2

How to Avert A Great Depression Through the Hungry 2010s?
Answer, By Making All Banking Very Much Cheaper, By Norman Macrae
As a teenager, Norman began studying economics in (today’s) Bangladesh whilst waiting to navigate RAF airplanes in world war 2. His father-in-law was mentored for a quarter of a century by Gandhi, one Bar of London Barrister to another, on how to end Raj Imperialism. He went on to write over 2000 editorials from the microeconomics perspective of Free Markets & Entrepreneurial Revolution for The Economist, and in 1984 mapped what alternative futures micro versus macro economic worlds of the first networking generation will spin -contact Washington DC bureau 301 881 1655

If banks in rich democracies had been truly competitive institutions, at least one of them somewhere would have seized the main opportunity created by the computer. This main opportunity was to make all deposit-banking vastly cheaper than ever before. By this cheapening it should make such banking hugely more profitable. Then further competition would search for the cheapest ways to guide all the world’s saving into the most profitable (or otherwise most desirable) forms of capital investment, thus enriching all mankind.

Instead, during 2008 the total losses of banks in rich democracies – in North America, West Europe and Japan – soared into trillions of dollars. Fearful for their solvency, these banks virtually stopped lending. The issuance of corporate bonds, commercial paper, and many other financial products largely ceased. Hedge and insurance firms also crashed. Mankind is thus threatened in the 2010s with its longest great depression since the hungry 1930s.

Why? The strange answer seems to be that other happy consequences of modern technology promised to make this cheapening even faster. Call centres in Bangalore vastly undercut the middle class salaries of Midland bank clerk who until the 1950s expensively answered clients’ questions in their branches in the City of London. Cheap mobile phones kept village ladies in once miserable Bangladesh as fully in touch with market prices as is the chief research officer of the First National Bank of Somewhere in California. His weekly salary is still 1000 times greater than the previous annual earnings of that village lady. The cost-effective way of running the old Midland or First National then seemed to be to cut its total salary cost by something like 99%. This did not please Western welfare governments, or the decent chief executives of the old Midland or First National bank.

Awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block
– WS Gilbert in The Mikado - why it is uncomfortable to work in an industry which needs 99% redundancies.

Western welfare governments have long preferred to run their banks in high cost cartels, and even invented reasons why this seems to be moral. Their deposit-banks have usually kept in cash only 10% of the total amount deposited with them. If 11% of depositors suddenly feared that their banks might go bust, this could accelerate a run that would send them bust indeed. Governments therefore thought that depositors would be less fearful if they were assured that the banks were officially and tightly regulated. Actually, this mainly meant that the banks had to hire ever more expensive lawyers so as to escape any crippling consequences from this regulation. The attached quote shows that Samuel Pepys understood this fact of life in his Diaries of July 21, 1662.

I see it is impossible for the King to have things done so cheaply as do other men
– Samuel Pepys on discovering an important commercial fact of life in his Diary, 21 July, 1662

The decent bosses of the deposit banks felt that the best way of avoiding sacking nine tenths of their staffs was by competing with a very different sort of financing called merchant banking whose earnings and bonuses were far more generous than those given to their own staff. These merchant banks were of peculiarly differing pedigree. In London, it was assumed that they could best be run by families like Barings who had done the job for over 200 years. In the 1990s, Barings went totally bust because one of its hired traders bet much of its money on a hunch that a bad earthquake in Japan meant that the shares of Japanese banks and insurance companies would become more profitable. In Zurich, merchant banks felt it most moral to keep the accounts of their depositors totally secret, especially if these accounts were being used to defraud their own countries’ tax authorities. In 2008 those secretive banks were then defrauded. In Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros bid up their annual bonuses to millions of dollars for each partner. In 2008 even Goldman Sachs made a loss and Lehman Bros went bust.

A former chairman of the Federal Reserve argues that “fearful investors clearly require a far larger capital cushion to lend unsecured to any financial intermediary now”. He therefore thinks that taxpayers money should be ladled into them to make those investors less fearful. This seems far more likely to make depositors intermittently more terrified and cause any depression into the 2010s to linger on and on.

In the 1930s, the chief economic adviser to the government of Siam was called Prince Damrong. I try always to remember it
– quote from former director of International Monetary Fund.

One of the few big banks to make a profit in 2008 was the Grameen Bank (which means Village Bank) in that once basket-case country called Bangladesh. The sole staff in a branch serving several villages was once a woman student. It is now more usually someone who has learnt to use the computer in the right way.

The rest of this report will examine how this marvellously cost-cutting operation works. Perhaps the most relevant and terrifying analogy is to commercial airlines. In 1945, there were only a tiny number of passenger airmiles flown on them. In each successive year these increased hugely and in this slumptime 2009 there will be billions of passenger airmiles flown. In the late 1940s most governments therefore created national airlines and were confident they would flourish in this boom industry, with official regulation assuring they would be safe. Instead all proceeded to lose money, and later privatised but large airlines also did. The present trend is to cost cutting airlines like Ryan Air.

The same will happen to banks. Large banks mislending to the rich have run into losses that have created the slump. Politicians, thinking they are saving the world, are mislending huge sums to these mislenders and will eventually make the slump worst.

How to create cost-cutting banks? Begin the story with the crosshead below, peculiar as it may seem.

The Nobel peace prize for 2006 was controversially awarded, in Oslo, to a “banker for the poor” in usually unfashionable Bangladesh. Since the microcredit system pioneered by this Dr Muhammad Yunus really has lifted record millions of Bangladeshi women from the world’s direst poverty, some of the world’s toughest tycoons have thrilled to his stated aim to “harness the powers of the free market to solve the problems of poverty”.

To his fans’ delight and astonishment, he is achieving exactly that. In the past quarter of a century, his Grameen Bank has lent (without collateral or lawyers) increasing billions of dollars to millions of poor women in the previously starving villages of Bangladesh, and got an extraordinary 99% repayment back. His often illiterate customers have started millions of successful small businesses in unimagined fields like mobile telephone ladies and saleswomen of the world’s cheapest yogurt. All these successes have been won by keeping costs incredibly low. A banking operation that would cost Goldman Sachs $100 in New York or London would cost Grameen in Bangladesh well under 100 cents.

This is a huge development in human history. Money can now be directly channelled into productive use by the world’s poorest people, while unsuccessful lending to the rich has caused a world slump. How do we switch custom to cost-cutting banks?

During Bangladeshi’s terrible famine year of 1974, Dr Yunus ( who had won his doctorate in economics in a free market American university, which most founders of banks have not done) came back to his 1940 birthplace of Chittagong, as professor of economics at the university there. He started lecturing on his republic’s 5 year plan, which like most 5 year plans was economic nonsense. In search of reality he took a field party of his students to one of the nearby famine threatened villages. His group analysed that all 42 of the village’s small businesses (such as tiny farm plots and market stalls) were indeed going bust unless they could borrow a tiny total $27 on reasonable terms.

The first thought was to give the $27 as charity. But Yunus lectured that a social business dollar, which had to be paid back after careful use in an income generating activity was much more effective than a charity dollar, which might be used only once and frittered away. The careful use of loans in very small quantities, says Yunus “means that you bring in a business model, you become concerned about the costs, the revenue, how to bring more efficiency, new technology, how to redesign, every year you review the whole thing. Charity doesn’t bring that whole package”.

Mercifully, all those first 42 tiny loans were fully repaid, and lent back. After 9 years of further experiments, Yunus in 1983 founded his Grameen Bank. Its priority was to make loans that were desperately needed by those of the poor that did repay them. Indeed, he argues that “access to credit is a human right so long as that credit is repaid”. This is the reverse of the usual banking priority, which is first (and in credit crunches only) to make the safest loans those to the rich that can provide collateral.

In these last 25 years, Grameen has provided increasing $billions of loans to poor people with that astonishing 99% repayment rate. In 2006, it had 7 million borrowing customers, 97% of them women, in 140,000 villages of Bangladesh. Microcredit had by then reached 80% of Bangladesh’s poorest rural families. Over half of Grameen’s own borrowers had successful small businesses. The women borrowers predominated because they usually are the poorest people in rural Islam and proved best in paying back.

When a Grameen bank manager goes to a new village, he has entrepreneurially to seek for poor but viable borrowers. He earns a star if he achieves 100% repayment of loans, and other stars if his customers are fulfilling most of the 16 guarantees that all customers are asked to pledge, ranging from intensive vegetable growing, through sending all their children to school, to renouncing dowries. A branch with no stars would be in danger of closing, so borrowers rally round with suggestions, such as which unreliable repayers to exclude. Borrowers from the bank who do repay are called owners of the bank and receive incentives such as opportunities for insurance, and for winning university scholarships for their children.

An early income generator was the profession of telephone ladies. They borrowed enough to buy a cheap mobile phone from a Grameen subsidiary. They draw fees for phoning to see if more profitable prices for crops are available in a neighbouring village, and from anybody who wants to hire the phone to contact the outside world. This is a job that could only become important in a microcredit setting. The owner of a mobile phone in richer suburbia would not find many customers to hire her set.

One special desire of Yunus was to improve the nutrition of poor children in Bangladesh , and he formed a social business with the largest French food multinational. This Grameen-Danone test marketed to find what sorts of fortified yogurt Bangladeshi children would like. Although Danone at first wanted large plants with refrigerated systems, Grameen won the debate to make them small plants which bought local milk. It hired very cheap local distributors who knew which families had children who might buy the yogurt at a few cents a cup. To keep the price that low, Danone had to agree not to pay any dividend from the sales of the yogurt in Bangladesh. but its $1 million investment remains returnable and it has learnt a lot about sales of a new product in poor countries.

A French water company is forming a similar social business with Grameen to remove arsenic from Bangladesh’s rural water supply. Some American computer tycoons (including Bill Gates) may help to find the best way to establish computer centres in remote villages. The telephone ladies will then face competition, but constant competition in new technology is one name of this game.

Nobody is suggesting that Goldman Sachs, when it recovers, should operate precisely in Yunus’ mode. But some competition in sharply cutting costs in most banks will have to be part of the world’s new banking system.

Microcredit will play a part in solving some problems that statesmen won’t yet believe.

Microcredit could also best move poor Afghans off growing 93% of the world’s present supplies of heroin, while international aid to understandably corrupt governments in Kabul do the opposite. At present international drug barons buy the heroin from Afghan farmers at a few pence per gram, then sell that gram in Mayfair or East Glasgow for around £60 per gram. This is not a distribution system with the needed cheapness and efficiency at which microcredit excels. A Yunus-type of bank might set Afghans, like Bangladeshi, more profitably at selling yogurt instead. Before Helemand province specialised in heroin its main product was fruit; microcredit could lure it back to that. Dive-bombing Taliban, who guard the poppy fields has been a vulgar commercial mistake.

Yunus’ winning ways with Islamic women can be turned into exciting community exponentials in ending poverty in Africa. But at present Africa is held back from banking for the poor because so many of its children are dying with malaria and its adults with aids.

A large number of US congressmen of both parties are asking the World Bank for a flexible grant facility of $200 million per year to build the capacity to find what systems of microcredit work where. This could best be combined with Dr Yunus’ proposal that an investigator of poverty should study in which districts poverty is falling and in which it is increasing. The banks or other bodies working in the successful areas should then be copied in the unsuccessful ones. When banking in the rich world recovers, a similar investigator might well be asked to report on what new systems of lending are working there too, and to discontinue the sort of banking whose losses have landed us in world slump.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blog year2008 in october is about ending poverty so we hope this week's syndication to 100 blogs will exponentialise to tens of thousands of blogs by then, with a little help from friends like you

sustainability club

social business club

collaboration cafe

yunus 10000 collaboration coordinators for youth dialogues in that city and between cities together with invitations to action specific to each video good news story - eg if you want microcredit to beat off big banks why not help any school try out micro credit with the world's simplest program small change, big changes - a microloanfoundation franchise

Peers across hemispheres and I are far more interested in ensuring that each of these intercity movements vetoes any uses of 20th c failing system methods that the majority of club coordinators -or where elected an honorary board - vote against, than prescribing revenue models.

Obviously we should want coordinators to make a living out of work input whlst at the same time recognising that being a club coordinator is probably worth more than having many a professional qualification - or needs to become so if this world is to be sustainable. Equally where profits are repeatedly generated I assume we can find a way iof agreeing some sliding scale that should be contributed either to your favourite grassroots organsiation in bangladesh or to a small list of other potential grassroots partners of future capitalism which should probably need at least 75 of members refendum to confirm

I am very happy if people will negotiate what other rules they would need to want to participate as well as to clarify where they want diferent contant at the mother webs. The main web system I use costs $35 a year per web so its not difficult to imagine that major cties will also want to set up their own branch web or of course a free blog - either of which we will happily linmk from the top of the mother web.

Obviously some of our constitution needs double checking with for example the 100000 bangladeshi's and other Gandhians who are the main practical exemplar of the values we seek to network worldwide so that the future sustains 7 billion brilliant jobs and goodwill multiplying across all women, children and even men.

We wish to learn from each city's most successful ways of mobilising and cross-cultural celebration, as well as metods for ensuring that any action network actually reaches to those in most desperate need of its service. This is one of the big lessons of bangladeshi experience -reiterated by every micro-system designer in bangladesh we have interviewed - once a networks starts empowering the entrepreneur inside it will never get deeper than the deepest needsholders it begins with. This is a lesson that many global NGOs seem never to have begun to grade.

chris macrae
washington dc inquiries desk usa 301 881 1655
y10000 at facebook

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

aprils' collaboration city highlights - do tell us yours

april's round the world of collaboration cities

DC perhaps the greatest ever attempt to unite western women's networks -see the case for investing in women and girls ; this is theme we wish to continue in any space - eg facebook do tell us if there's a virtual community you'd want this conversation extended to ;

media change is one of those lifelong issues for world entrepreneurs and me - at the internet level the prospects of 10000 village telecentres quizzin the web on vital knowledge is perhaps the best news for the planet I have heard since berners lee invented the www; on mass media we continue to plug away at this tome of year in the face off between american idol and and all year round at and in the campaigns for real heroes for youth and the training of youth entrepreneurs. LA's green children kindly gave me a plug recently

back at Dhaka in january when we met Dr Yunus and discussed what agendas 1000 bookclub should link round in 2008 findin the way to unite the voices of the big demographic groups such as women and youth who have less decision making power but so much to do in sustaining community was one of the top 12 connections we promised to keep trying to make - the picture shows the other 12 ; these are linked in more getail at

New York hosts the next collaboration cafe around dr yunus on april 15 at pete's tavern - if you are interested in coming ask before april 14. Ta!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dr Yunus of Grameen and microcredit and Nobel peace 2006 is setting cities and citiens around the world an interesting challenge. If he is passing through your city would you be able to find 1000 people who all wanted to collaborate with each other as well as him in empowering a good global world instead of the bad one currently compoundingSynonyms for good are win-win-win, sustainable, empowering every community up, one where hi-trust people transparently win over low-trustSo 2 questions:if Yunus was passing through Africa cities, which do you think would produce the most collaborative impactsif you are a twin national - eg living in a rich city but with family roots back in Africa - how ready is your big rich city to represent Africa interests when Yunus hosts his Forum 1000 there.My friends are particularly working on London and New York as 2 test cities; partly because a London University student spent the summer interning in Dhaka on this project. One intercity collaboration idea is collaboration cafe - see those we have already hosted and tell us at if you want to replay one in your city or virtually

Another collaboration idea is can we produce a good global idea to heroes, their projects and networks for humanity. Why do people all over the world know the top 10 sporstmen for 50 different sports but not top 10s for different vital issues of human sustainability?

But the best truth about collaboration knowledge cities in the 5 years that I have been searching the peoples and communities that weave them is that if any city does a great job in turning round a beter Global with Yunus we can all learn from what it did and work out how to invite the 1000 most relevant citizens when Yunus passes your way.