Microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus ousted?

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Update as of Friday afternoon: Still not clear.

Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winning economist who created the anti-poverty loan strategy known as microfinance, has reportedly been ordered by the Bangladesh government to step down from his pioneering institution the Grameen Bank.

I say reportedly because the news, at the moment, is kind of schizoid — because the politics in Bangladesh are, uh, unpredictable and, well, because being told to do something is one thing and doing it is another.

Yunus has been in a political battle for a while which, depending upon your perspective, is either just an unjustified power struggle or the result of a broader crisis in microfinance.

The New York Times and Time magazine say Yunus has been ousted. The Associated Press and Forbes say he’s been ordered out, but plans to stay.

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David Roodman, a microfinance expert at the Center for Global Development and one of those with his finger on the pulse, is also questioning whether some of the media reports might be jumping the gun to claim he’s actually been ousted.

As Roodman noted Monday, the board of the private bank refused to follow the dictates of politicians to vote him off the board and U.S. politicians have come to Yunus’ support.

My money is on Yunus putting up a fight. We’ll see.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.