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Yunus survives board room ‘ambush’

2 March 2011
Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen

Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen, has survives an 'ambush' to force him out of the microlending organisation

 

Picture by Mark Chilvers

Nobel peace prize winning social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus has survived a boardroom battle to oust him from the microlending organisation he founded 30 years ago.

Social Enterprise understands that Monday’s meeting of the Grameen Bank board saw the newly appointed government chair Muzammel Huq spring a surprise motion, supported by a letter from the finance ministry, seeking to remove Yunus from his position of managing director on the grounds of age. But this motion was voted down by all other members of the board including the two other government appointees and nine women borrowers.

Friends of Grameen, a group of 50 international supporters of Grammen Bank and of Yunus, said: ‘This event is a further step in the escalation of the effort by Government of Bangladesh to oust Professor Yunus and take control of Grameen Bank.’

International media speculation as to why the Bangladeshi government may be moving in this direction includes the ability to reach rural constituencies through the 80,000 villages in which the bank operates and Yunus’s strong stand against corruption in his home country.

Speaking of the boardroom motion, Liam Black, UK representative on the executive board of Friends of Grameen, said: ‘My view is that to ambush Yunus just before a board meeting, and to want to throw him out after giving 30 years of his life to an organisation, is outrageous and demonstrates in the clearest way possible this is not about any concerns about the bank but instead this is about getting Yunus out.

‘It does look like the space for an amicable resolution, which is what Yunus really wants, is disappearing, which is very depressing and hugely damaging to the future of Grameen.’

Michel Camdessus, member of the Honorary Committee of Friends of Grameen, said: ‘Grameen Bank is an asset for Bangladesh, and so is Professor Yunus. Acting not only lawfully, but also fairly to them, and with proper recognition of the immense contribution of Professor Yunus, will be fundamental for the government of Bangladesh to maintain its image of rectitude and of concern for the best service of the poor.’

At the time of going to press Social Enterprise was not able to contact Dhaka to speak to Yunus or Huq.

To read a statement from Grameen Bank confirming that Yunus continues in the post of managing director click on the PDF below.

Grameen Bank statement
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