Letter: Africa pays too high a price for following the advice of the World Bank and IMF

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article today states that aid is often squandered by the recipient governments, and this may well be one reason why Africa and the other developing nations do not receive the attention that they deserve. Surely one solution to this problem is to focus our efforts on directly supporting those in need, as frequently advocated by Unicef, Oxfam and others.

A good example of a project that helps people to help themselves is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. This is an innovative credit scheme enabling people who have absolutely no collateral to borrow funds to start small businesses, etc. Such a principle would cause your local bank manager to have a fit of apoplexy] The Grameen Bank has more than 1 million borrowers in Bangladesh, and also operates in other countries. The repayment rate is 97 per cent - far better than most commercial banks could ever hope to achieve. This proves that the poor are creditworthy, and can lift themselves out of their poverty, given the chance.

The founder of the Grameen Bank, Dr Mohammed Yunus, is coming to London during May to promote the Grameen Trust - an organisation to replicate the bank in other countries, probably including Eastern Europe. He will be meeting Baroness Chalker, the Minister for Overseas Development, and is seeking substantial funding to support the work of the trust. Let us hope that our government responds favourably, as the Grameen model has a proven track record and is very good news for the poorest people around the world.

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD PROSSER

Kenilworth, Warwickshire

(Photograph omitted)

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