Muhammad Yunus challenges Compartamos bank

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Muhammad_yunus Is it ok to make a big profit from lending to the poor? Where does microcredit end and loan sharking begin?

Carlos Danel and Carlos Labarthe, the CEOs of Compartamos, a nonprofit-cum-commercial bank which charges an annual interest rate of nearly 100 percent, believe that only the lure of profits will motivate people to lend to the poor. Today Compartamos reaches 700,000 borrowers and 88 percent of its clients come back for more loans.  In 2006, it was rated as Mexico's most profitable bank.

Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate who pioneered the movement three decades ago and has made loans to some 7 million borrowers in Bangladesh, disagrees. Poor people's willingness to pay high interest is not a justification for charging it, he says.  Compartamos is not microcredit, it's "raking in money off poor people desperate for cash."

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