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ViewChange: Challenging Hunger
In Bangladesh, the birthplace of the Grameen bank and the global microcredit movement, women and their families are saving for the future, with help from bank systems that serve the poor.
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Directed by Glenn Baker and produced by Stephen Sapienza.

Find out how to support the Grameen Bank.

Learn more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Short Film Initiative, a collaboration with the Sundance Institute.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Two-fifths of the people on Earth earn less than USD$2 a day. In Bangladesh, where four-fifths of the people earn less than USD$2 daily, the poor are increasingly demanding one thing: a safe place to save.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED [Chairperson, BRAC]
I think the poor need savings more than anybody else.
VOICEOVER
Fazle Abed heads BRAC, the largest non-governmental organization in the world, which works to empower the poor in nine countries and in 70,000 villages across Bangladesh.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
Their earning is irregular, they need to save more. There are too many days where there is no food in the household, so if they don't save, they starve.
SOKHINA BEGUM
We are farmers, so it is difficult to tell our income per month.
VOICEOVER
Sokhina Begum lives on a "nomadic island," one of thousands of shifting silt bars in the vast Jamuna River. This is one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh.
SOKHINA BEGUM
Some months there's work, so my husband earns good money, and some months are bad. In a good month, my husband brings home USD$28 to USD$35.
VOICEOVER
In a scene played out in villages throughout Bangladesh, Sokhina takes her passbook to a savings meeting organized by a local NGO, where she makes a cash deposit.
SOKHINA BEGUM
We save 15 cents each week.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS [Founder, Grameen Bank]
The poor have all the uncertainties around them. All the risks around them. Savings is one strategy to protect from those uncertainties. Uncertainties come from any direction: from the family direction there may be uncertainties, that nobody's earning money, or it can come from the weather, just a disaster, a flood.
SOKHINA BEGUM
Whatever we had was destroyed by the river. Everything we have is rented. In our family we have nothing to inherit. Savings gives me confidence, knowing I have it in case of emergency. I hope to have more in the future.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
Without that savings, the way you'll fall down from the present position, savings is protecting you, keep to that level where you are so that you don't slide back into the terrible situation that you were in. So gradually, step by step, you move your levels, and savings are the one which holds you at that position.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
When people start savings, they're looking forward to something, and then gradually they can build up something to invest.
VOICEOVER
Traditionally, banks have not catered to the poor.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
We're talking about the rural population. Commercial banks are not there.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
You find that banks are not really interested in poor people's small sums of money. And that's the reason why some of the social development organizations such as BRAC have gone into providing this service for the poor.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
The basic principle of Grameen Bank is, people should not come to the bank, bank should go to the people. So we are going to all these 8 million plus borrowers in all the thousands of villages where they live.
HELENA AKHTER
My name is Mrs. Helena Akhter and I'm 27 years old. I have one daughter. She is 12. I've been saving for the last eight years. I can make 10 mats a day and sell them for 25 cents each. I put 30-45 cents into savings each week, and any extra money I earn, I also save there. My hopes are to provide my daughter with a good education and to raise her to be a good human being, to manage my family, and to be a better person myself.
VOICEOVER
Across Bangladesh, mobile technology is creating easy access to safe places to save.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
BRAC Bank has now got a license from Bangladesh Central Bank to try and mobilize savings through cell phones.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
You can provide all kinds of banking services with a mobile phone. Health services. Educational services. You have no boundary where it stops.
MAN [Cell phone salesman]
Demand [for mobile phones] has spread throughout the villages. Every family has four, five, ten phones, then they come back for more.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
It came and conquered the whole country. It's everywhere right now. We have over 58 million subscribers in a country of 150 million people.
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED
It will certainly change the vulnerability of the poor, being able to have access to savings.
MUHAMMAD YUNUS
What happens the next ten years is up to us to decide. So whatever imagination we can bring in, whatever vision we can bring in, we can make it happen.
SAMEDA BIBI
My name is Sameda Bibi, age 50. My home is in Narayanpur, Bogra district. I've been saving for the last four years; I use it for banana cultivation. The savings helps me face any problem in the family, maybe to get new land to cultivate; maybe to get goats or cows for dairy. My savings are helping us prepare for the future. To be able to eat, to provide, to grow -- that's real happiness for me.
TITLE
[end credits]