Status as per December 6. 2010.
After airing the film at NRK last tuesday – and only in Norwegian language – the story has litteraly exploded all over the world. (Quite strange, as hardly any (sorry Norway) actually knows what is being said in the film.) BBC, AFP and The Times are just a few.
A good journalistic tool, is to analyze motives and consequenses – before you publish your story. However, the reaction in the medias came as a total surprise to me. But when it comes to the many, many mails I received and among the comments on this website (thank’s a lot) I believe that the timing was – and is – the most important motive/consequense. Somewhere out there there has been a need for another kind of a story, than we are used to and where we mostly see all the “smiling faces” on the websites of the many organisations and MFI’s offering microcredit. I can assure that after working with this story for the last couple of years – I have not only read numerous critical articles and books relating to the Micro-credit issue. I have also met and talked to scores of scientists, economists and development reserachers- much more capable than I am – who have said to me, that there is a need for re-thinking the whole idea when it comes to eradication of poverty using microcredit the way it’s being done. A good friend and researcher have said to me (and I agree):
It is fully understood that poor people need financial services. Who doesn’t? The documentary program only shows that such programs are not a sollution to poverty. They are not a panacea as some people want you to believe.
In fact for many people it can push them in to further poverty. Giving someone some money does not automatically mean they become successful entrepreneurs. A lot of this money is not used productively. Poor people also need consumer rights. Rights to avoid becoming over-indebted. Rights of legal redress. Rights against harrassment. And what the financial scandal shows is their rights at the institutional level were infringed. The microcredit market needs diligent regulation.
Currently two investigations are going on regarding the Grameen Bank’s transfer of foreign aid money (100 mio USD) to a Grameen-company nobody in Norway knew existed. One in Norway and one in Bangladesh. I welcome these investigations and hope that they can give some answers as to why the Norwegian authorities and Mr. Yunus agreed in conceiling all the documents relating to the issue.
A good back ground article from WSJ was published today.
In January we will be ready with the international English version of the film, and where we will have interviews from not only Bangladesh but also from India and Mexico.