Segments in this Video

Film Prelude (01:54)


In 1906, Mohammad Yunus wins the Nobel Peace Prize for developing a microcredit system available in Third World countries. Many celebrities jump on his bandwagon, though economists question the system from the beginning.

Microloans: Success Stories (02:46)

The first stories of success come out of Bangladesh. The Clintons then back Yunus and push for the Nobel Prize for him.

Follow-Up on Microloans (05:29)

Investigators study the effects of microloans. In France, a consultant questions the power of loans to eliminate poverty. Investigations in Bangladesh uncover deep dissatisfaction over Grameen Bank's empty promises and promotional set-ups.

Since Hillary Clinton's Visit (01:47)

In a village once visited by Hillary Clinton, locals attest that only 4 houses were built as a result of microcredit. Over 50 people originally took loans, but there here are no other visible signs of development.

Grameen's Success from Western Support (02:23)

Alex Counts, Founder and CEO of Grameen Foundation says he wants to see the successes of Bangladesh expand around the world. Microcredit organizations use stories of their accomplishments to claim success. Grameen's success is aided by grants and subsidies from the West.

Microcredit in Mexico (02:24)

Many Mexicans have taken microloans, yet very few have experienced any success. Experts agree that without entrepreneurial skills, most people in poverty will lose the money and end up in debt.

Debt Repayment Plan (01:43)

People without savings and no credit are attracted to the microloan system. When women borrow and then default, debt repayment is made by groups of women who have to use their own money.

Losing Proposition: Trapped by Debt (03:42)

Grameen demands that groups, not individuals, repay loans, making them responsible for defaults. Grameen forces women to pay high interest, to put savings into the bank, and to begin repayment within one week of the loan. Women borrow to pay for earlier loans and often go to local loan sharks.

Microloans: Increasing Poverty (03:46)

People take microloans for legitimate reasons, including general expenses. Problems arise among the extremely poor because most loans cannot be repaid on time, better lifestyles do not ensue, poverty increases, and health decreases.

Microcredit: Profitable Business (04:34)

The Grameen CEO defends interest rates of 100-200%. Women who cannot read or write sign loan documents. Bank representatives locate people with debt and threaten them. People lives are shattered by debt and they lose everything.

Mohammad Yunus's (05:12)

Grameen Bank has 8.5 million customers. The bank partners with many multinationals. Mohammad Yunus is caught in a scheme to avoid taxes by creating an enormous fraud on bank stakeholders. The fraud is kept confidential.

Western Involvement in Microcredit (01:32)

The Western world has donated enormous amounts of money to the microcredit industry. Most Westerners have been lured into the industry by the success stories that Grameen promotes. The best stories get the most international support.

Microloans and Family Deterioration (03:32)

In India, the poor who took microloans now face hard times. Pressure to pay installments often leads to humiliation and abuse. Suicide is a solution for some people. Families are torn apart. A mother tells a tragic story.

Pay or Die (02:45)

In Mexico, Bangladesh, or India, debtors tell the same story: they feel like killing themselves, and some people run away. Loan collectors stay in a debtor's home until he or she is forced to borrow from a moneylender.

Microcredit Industry: Downward Spiral into Debt (03:56)

The microfinance industry wants everyone to believe that it is important and useful, and therefore deserves subsidy and public support. While the elite continue to profit from the microcredit industry, the poor continue to suffer, or even suffer worse.

Mohammad Yunus: Cover-Up (01:46)

Mohammad Yunus refuses to respond to critical questions about his dealings with Grameen. His statements are contradictory and in some cases they are lies.

Tragic Stories of Financial Failure (04:37)

Two Bangladeshi women share their tragic stories. Where once they had homes and some personal belongings they now have nothing, and still the debt is not paid. Mothers cannot feed their children well because all the money goes towards the debt.

Debt: Good for the Poor? (02:44)

Mohammad Yunus continues to give speeches and to accept accolades and donations. His story is that poverty can be eliminated through credit. Poverty gets worse when people accumulate debt. Who is Yunus helping? The rich or the poor?

Credits: "The Micro Debt: A Critical Investigation" (00:28)

Credits: "The Micro Debt: A Critical Investigation"

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The Micro Debt: A Critical Investigation

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For decades, experts have hailed microcredit as the paramount solution to global poverty. But there is a lesser-known version of that story in which Grameen Bank founder Mohammad Yunus and other promoters of miniaturized finance appear to serve mostly their own interests. Bringing to light a range of potentially unethical practices and policies, this program explores the microcredit system that has been implemented across much of the developing world. Using examples in both Bangladesh and Mexico, the film assesses the financial wellbeing of several borrowers; reports on suicides resulting from massive personal debt; questions whether or not celebrity advocates like Bono or the Clintons truly understand the impact of microcredit programs; and examines the future viability of the microfinance community. Interviews feature respected economists Milford Bateman, Thomas Dichter, Ha-Joon Chang, and many others. (57 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL43935

ISBN: 978-1-61733-807-6

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“With the developed world still reeling from the subprime credit crisis, the topic of making loans to impoverished people is timely. Recommended.” —Library Journal

“Well produced, with excellent camera work and an abundance of interviews… and well researched, offering data on successes and failures of microloans. Highly recommended.” —Educational Media Reviews Online

Lorenzo Natali Journalism Grand Prize—The European Commission

International Gold Panda Award for Best Documentary—Sichuan TV Festival

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