Microcredit gives hope to Bangladesh rural poor

DHAKA, Oct 14, 2006 (AFP) – A tiny Grameen bank loan to buy a cow was a lifeline for 32-year-old Margina who now runs a successful rice business but was once so poor she could not afford to eat. Like millions of others, Margina saw her life transformed through a 3,000 taka (42 dollar) loan from the Grameen Bank founded by Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for lifting millions out of poverty through his pioneering concept of microcredit.

“When I first started borrowing from Grameen bank 12 years ago, I was very poor,” said Margina, from Kathali village in the northern Mymensingh district.

“I used to only eat one meal a day and some days I could not eat at all. My husband did not have any work and we lived in miserable conditions,” said Margina, who uses one name.

The bank, which targets women because it believes they are better than men at running family finances, has given small loans to more than 6.6 million people in Bangladesh to help them become self employed.

“I borrowed 3,000 taka for a cow and I started earning money by selling milk. Then I took another loan to buy a cart for the cow to pull and then another one to buy a mobile phone (to sell c