One of the most beneficial tools in the social innovator’s arsenal is empowerment – gifting someone the opportunity to help themselves, helping them be their own heroes.
Muhammad Yunus, the famed “Banker to the Poor”, began the Grameen Bank as a way to lend money to the poorest people in Bangladesh. Previously, as banks did not consider such people creditworthy, the poor would be forced to borrow from usurious moneylenders at astronomical rates with special conditions. For instance, a 7¢ loan for bamboo to make stools could turn a woman into a virtual slave, as the lender would only lend her money if she would sell the stools to him for a set cost.
Banks in Bangladeshi culture would also not lend money to women, yet, the Grameen Bank saw that lending to women actually brought more benefit to the family unit than lending to men. Now, 97 percent of their 8 million borrowers are women.
Once empowered, there is no stopping people. The repayment rate for loans is around 98 percent. 18,000 people quit begging once the bank loaned them money to purchase things to sell door to door. The shareholders of Grameen Bank are actually the borrowers themselves. Therefore, the bank offers affordable loans to send their children to universities.
The empowerment stems from that it is not charity, it is a micro-loan which can change a life.
One of the questions we ask the HeroX community is, “how can we all empower an underserved population in a way that can help them help themselves?" How can we help everyone harness their inner-hero?