12:00 AM, January 06, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 06, 2012

US wants Grameen Bank to flourish

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Staff Correspondent

The United States wants Grameen Bank to continue to thrive in every possible way, as the Nobel-winning microfinance organisation is an example of extraordinary development work happening in Bangladesh, a visiting senior US official said yesterday.
"Many officials in our government have said that we hoped that it will continue to flourish in every possible way because the work that it does is very critically important", said Melanne Verveer, the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.
"It is an example of the extraordinary development work that has been happening in Bangladesh", she said.
She was talking to reporters during her visit to a Grameen Bank centre at Singair, Manikganj along with US Congresswoman Betty McCollum and US Ambassador to Dhaka Dan Mozena.
During the nearly three-hour visit, the US diplomats talked to several Grameen Bank borrowers and listened how they are using the collateral-free loans to better their economic conditions. They also asked them how loans are given and repaid. They also visited their homes.
Both McCollum and Verveer, who arrived in Dhaka on Wednesday, are now in Bangladesh to meet with the representatives of the government, civil society, and community-based organisation involved in advancing the rights and well being of women and girls, and to promote US policy on women, health, and education.
McCollum is a Democrat serving her sixth term in the US Congress. She recently introduced legislation that declares child marriage to be a human rights abuse and advocates for the elimination of child marriage as a US foreign policy goal.
Verveer coordinates foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic, and social advancement of women around the world.
Echoing Verveer, Mozena said, "The position of the government is that Grameen Bank continues to work as an effective institution, bringing hopes to millions".
He said a selection committee should be formed in line with the Grameen Bank procedures to find out a strong candidate for the post of managing director in a free and transparent fashion.
In May last year, the top post of the country's best known organisation fell vacant after its iconic founder Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus resigned following a legal defeat against the government.
Mohammad Shahjahan, who is currently the acting managing director of the bank, accompanied the US diplomats during their visit. He said Grameen Bank is continuing its activities as per rules.
Verveer will depart for Nepal today, while McCollum will continue her visit in Bangladesh until January 10, according to the US embassy in Dhaka.
Grameen Bank has lent more than US$10 billion to 83 lakh mostly rural women since its inception in 1983. Its microfinance model has been copied at home and abroad.

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