Monday, August 23, 2010

Forward to the Past

OK. I’ve finally finished writing about my experiences from the village, and now it’s time to catch you up to present – or the more recent past – since you’re reading this at present.

Thursday was an interesting day. We had a meeting with the Director of the Yunus Center, the branch of Grameen that deals with the social business agenda. And I was very happy to find out that it operates on a very different wavelength than the International Program. It much more closely resembles a western organization (it’s air-conditioned and every desk has a trash bin), and even has work for its interns to do. It gives me some hope that I may be able to learn something about social business while I’m here. I went back on Sunday to discuss the opportunity to work with them directly and am excited to say that I am officially starting my internship there in 45 minutes.

But back to Thursday….

During our meeting, the Director brought up an interesting point. Although the Grameen model of microcredit has been replicated all around the world, the ownership model (Grameen is 95% owned by its borrowers) has never once been replicated. Fortunately, our next meeting was with the Director of Grameen Trust, the branch responsible for spreading the model around the world. I asked him why, and his answer was sensible, if not satisfying. He said it simply takes time – it even took Grameen six years. Legal structures need to be developed, etc. Though, he said he is confident the ownership model will be replicated eventually.

Thursday night was also very interesting. I met up with Mehreen, who is another friend of a friend from the US here in Dhaka. She spent much of her life in the US, having recently moved back to Dhaka to pursue a career in fashion design and production. Meeting her and her friends exposed me to a whole new side of Dhaka – the playground of the elite youth. They are the cool kids in Dhaka. Beyond that I had some very interesting conversations. One of her friends owned a garment factory (which produces her stuff), so I asked him about the recent minimum wage hikes, and how they will affect him (I’ll cover those in another post).

On Friday, Mike and I decided to check out Old Dhaka again before he departed, so I called Jony to see if he wanted to join us. Luckily, he did. It’s very useful to have a tour guide as a friend, especially in a place like Old Dhaka. The muddy, congested streets of old Dhaka make walking around almost as dangerous as driving. Rickshaws, CNGs, and the occasional car rip their way through crowds of people, making the chances of getting hit by one or another near 100%. We also visited the Sadarghat again, and I took a quick picture with Jony for your viewing pleasure.

The rest of the weekend I spent working on the blog. Boom. Back up to date.

Note: I put up a total of 15 posts from my time in the village and a few new ones from the past week, so check them all out!

Note 2: Yes, the title is a play on Back to the Future. 


  1. It's terrific that you have connected with the Yunus Centre and will begin interning there. That seems like an excellent "home" for you. Enjoyed reading your recent blog postings -- keep them coming! And say hello to Yunus Centre staff for me. Great energy!-Alex Counts

  2. Very interesting comment about the ownership model. I could see that because of the various legal structures it could be a complicated thing. But, even as microfinance is no longer in its "infancy," I would say there's plenty of room to grow. we'll see how different orgs try out the ownership model in the future.

  3. Hi, I found your blog through google. I'm heading to Dhaka for a few days later this month and was hoping to get a local guide to take me to the places I'd like to visit. If you think your mate in Dhaka could be interested can you forward his details or vice versa? my email is jonvdh @ gmail .com.

    cheers and nice blog!