Banking institutions for the poor operate primarily in developing countries with the objective of providing financial services (loans, savings, insurance) to those considered insolvent by the traditional banking sector. Generally, the services offered by the Bank involve extremely reduced monetary amounts, a few tens of Euros at the most. The idea at the heart of the institution is that, in the context of extreme poverty, very small loans are sufficient to allow a person to start up simple subsistence activities, to give an incentive to save, and ultimately to reach economic independence. Therefore, the principal aim of the Bank is to distribute micro loans at fixed costs and without any guarantee. The formula utilised to achieve such a result is based on a series of characteristic actions, such as the abolition of bureaucratic proceedings normally performed by banks, the elimination of all paper documentation - which is also dictated by the illiteracy of the majority of clients, the concession of faith-based loans without any guarantee, but instead based on virtuous mechanisms of solidarity and mutual influence and on instalment plans. In general, loans given by these institutions have a return rate of 99%.
The first bank for the poor was founded in 1976 in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006) with the name Grameen Bank (The Peasant’s Bank). The institution’s experience has recently been readapted and imported to developed countries in an attempt to assist those considered to be the economy’s "new poor".

BECCHETTI L. and PAGANETTO L. (2003), Finanza Etica. Commercio Equo e Solidale, Saggine.
PEARL  D. and PHILLIPS M. M. (2001), Grameen Bank, Which Pioneered Loans For the Poor, Has Hit a Repayment Snag, The Wall Street Journal, 27th November.
YUNUS  M. (2006), Il banchiere dei poveri, Ed. Feltrinelli.


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