About three months ago,  I saw the documentary “To Catch a Dollar.”  I was just talking to a friend about it the other day and thought I’d write a brief blog about it.  This insightful film, a 2010 Sundance Film Festival selection,  follows Noble Peace Prize winner and Presidential Medal of Honor winner Muhammad Yunus as he brings his revolutionary microfinance program, Grameen Bank,  to New York City.   With its roots in Bangladesh in the late 1970s, Muhammad Yunus started Grameen Bank as an avenue for women to obtain small loans for business ventures without the need for collateral. Through a group-based credit system, Grameen Bank relies on the idea that peer-pressure is a strong motivator to encourage the punctual, consistent re-payment of loans.  With a remarkable rate of re-payment, the program challenges conventional loan systems, and by the end of 2008, 7.6 billion dollars had been loaned to women all over the world.The film focuses on a few of the very first borrowers as Grameen Bank first comes to the U.S., opening its initial branch in Queens.   It’s an insightful journey that shows how the program works, how the small loans can make a big difference, and how the peer-pressure group idea is, indeed, a powerful way to encourage accountability.    Within one year, the Jackson Heights branch in Queens, New York loaned over $1.5 million dollars to 550 women.   Two more branches in Brooklyn and Manhattan followed with plans to expand across the U.S. With an introduction by the film’s maker,  Gayle Ferraro, and Robert DeNiro, and encouraging messages by Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, and Russell Simmons; it appears that Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank has some impressive support.  Following the film, there is a question-and-answer portion hosted by Maria Bartiroma from CNBC and a panel that includes Suze Orman; President of Kiva, Premal Shah; and President of Grameen America, Vidar Jorgensen; and Muhammed Yunus. If you get a chance,  go to www.tocatchadollar.com to find out more about this inspiring documentary.  It’s a thought-provoking film that illustrates how one “small” idea can evolve and, quite literally, change the world.  

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