A little goes a long way

Jan 20, 2012, 06:51 IST | Soma Das

Bonsai People is a 2011 documentary that highlights Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus' micro-lending initiatives to help the poor

In a nation grappling with the uncertainty of famine and natural disasters, Muhammad Yunus offered economic hope to those most affected by the unpredictability of Nature: The underprivileged.

A still from Bonsai People, which is directed by Holly Masher

Under Grameen Bank, Yunus provided women from rural areas small loans to start their own ventures. He started by lending just $27 to 42 women in the 1970s. Today, the bank provides $8 million to roughly as many women.

Yunus' contribution didn't go unnoticed, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. His concept of micro-finance and social business also became the theme for the documentary movie Bonsai People: The Vision of Muhammad Yunus (2011). The film, directed by Holly Masher tracks the stories of the women who benefit from the loans.

The title of the movie is inspired by Yunus' belief that the underprivileged are akin to the bonsai plant; their seeds have the potential to grow, but their economic growth is stunted because of rigid economic paradigms. 
This Saturday, you can watch the award-winning documentary, thanks to a collaboration between the Bombay Hub and the non-profit micro-finance portal Rang De.

Says Mitesh Tank, President (Mumbai), Rang De, "The motivation for starting Rang De was the belief that a peer-to-peer lending model could lower the cost of microcredit and reach out to underserved communities. The idea is that even the common man can help the underprivileged by making small donations of Rs 100 upwards.
The funds that are distributed fetch a return to the investor and the borrower pays a low interest rate of 8.5% while repaying the loan. There are periodic evaluations to ascertain the progress made and surprisingly, there is a 99.9% repayment rate."

Republic Day, marks the fourth anniversary of Rang De, which now boasts of 3,350 social investors, has benefited 11,000 households and has distributed Rs 6.36 crore in microcredit.

On January 21, 5 pm to 8 pm
At Bombay HUB, Candelar Building, 26 St John Baptist Road, Bandra (W); call 32220475
Email RSVP
Tickets Rs 150

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Delhi in a Day is directed by Prashant Nair. The dark comedy looks at the life of the privileged through the eyes of the have-nots. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director and cast. The film won the Best Film award at the September 2011 Houston Indian Film Festival. The film is the inaugural screening of Film India Worldwide screenings at The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). Film India Worldwide is programmed and curated by Uma da Cunha.
ON: Today, 6.30 pm
AT: Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.

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