Yunus Centre in a statement yesterday protested a news article, saying neither Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus received funds from the USAID personally, nor the Grameen companies got funds because of his friendship with former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
The report was run by The Daily Caller, a US-based online newspaper, on April 17. It was picked up by several Bangladeshi media outlets in the last two days.
The statement said the report created a great deal of misunderstanding among readers. It falsely says that the State Department has awarded at least $13 million to Prof Yunus in grants, contracts, and loans.
“The State Department has no authority to do such thing. The congressional oversight agency on USAID operations would have protested vehemently. The newspaper completely ignored how the US government agencies work.”
Citing the Clinton Foundation website, the Daily Caller stated that Prof Yunus donated between $100,000 and $300,000 to the Foundation.
“That too is a lie. The Clinton Foundation website mentions Grameen America under the category of contributions related exclusively to membership, sponsorship, and conference fees to attend the Clinton Global Initiative, which is an international conference. The president of Grameen America paid these fees for attending the conference over 10 years. There is no mention of Muhammad Yunus as a donor anywhere on the website.”
The news article gives impression that Yunus and Grameen have been given funds by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) because of influence exercised by Hilary Clinton.
Grameen companies around the world have been receiving funds from the USAID for at least last 30 years under Republican and Democratic administrations. This relationship is a long-term relationship developed long before Ms Clinton came to the state department, said the Yunus Centre statement.
The online newspaper claims that Yunus had business relationship with groups allied to him.
“This is completely false, because Prof Yunus does not have any business relationship with any organisation anywhere, let alone the groups allied to Yunus,” said the release.
Two US-based organisations, Grameen Foundation and Grameen America, have been linked with the report.
Grameen Foundation was founded in 1998 to raise funds to finance micro-credit organisations around the world. It has raised a total of $198 million to support micro-credit programmes in 20 countries.
Among its many donors, the USAID was also a small donor, said Yunus Centre.
Grameen America was founded in New York in 2008 by a wealthy American, a dedicated Republican, with his own money. It became very successful and spread over 11 cities in the US, requiring more funds than the founder could personally provide.
He spent his time and energy to raise the money for the programme. The organisation now serves 65,000 women borrowers through 18 branches. It has given out $380 million in micro loans with over 99 percent recovery rate.
Another organisation which received funds from the USAID is Yunus Social Business (YSB) which was founded in 2011 by two German young women professionals from Boston Consulting Group.
Headquartered in Frankfurt, YSB operates in Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Tunisia, Uganda, Tanzania, and India. It has established 34 social businesses in these countries, investing more than $8.6 million. It has created social business funds in several countries.
“All the organisations which promote Prof Yunus' ideas of micro-credit and social business are funded by many donors, banks, high net worth persons, and investors. The USAID is just one of the many organisations that have invested in these organisations for the quality and impact of their work, not for the favour of a friend in high place,” said the statement.