Yunus wants Sonia to open microcredit banks

New Delhi, January 31:

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus wants to open a non-profit microcredit institution for women in India that could be headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Although the government has not officially agreed, it is positive to the idea, said party insiders.

Yunus, who spoke to Sonia Gandhi on the sidelines of the two-day international conference on Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha centenary that ended today, told the Congress chief that she should take the initiative in promoting microcredit in the country. As of now, the government does not have a microfinance institute though there are NGOs working in the field. Yunus reportedly told Indian leaders that Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank model on microcredit could work in India. “But microfinance should be recognised as a legitimate business with a legal status in India.” So, if Sonia Gandhi wants to accept his proposal, India needs to meet a number of institutional requirements and give budgetary support to the microfinance sector.

“During his discussions with Sonia Gandhi, Yunus expressed his desire to promote microcredit institutions for women in India. He wanted the Congress president to head it,” said a party leader. “Sonia Gandhi was very positive about the suggestion. She is expected to discuss it with the government and give a formal response to his proposal. “The Congress president believes that microcredit institutions will help economic development percolate to the grassroots level,” the party leader added.

Yunus, who heads the Grameen Bank Trust, won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his network of microcredit institutions that have given credit worth $4.4 million to 4.4 million families in Bangladesh. Today, he will inaugurate a branch of the Grameen Bank Trust in Mumbai.

Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul have been propagating microcredit institutions for the rural sector.