Student Perspective- Dev Basumallik, Dhaka Bangladesh- Grameen Bank

August 23rd, 2011 - No Comments

My time at Grameen Bank was filled with some unforgettable experiences that have taught me a lot about myself.  Over the course of three weeks I have made some great friends, interacted with dozens of locals and learned so much about Grameen Bank. These memories will be invaluable too me in the future, both professionally and personally. Spending time in a country thousands of miles away truly gave me a fresh perspective on my future and the world around me.

My first key learning experience would be meeting and talking with borrowers of Grameen Bank during my five day village trip. Having the chance to interact with people with lives so drastically different allowed me to gain insight on what Grameen Bank actually does. Grameen Bank provides a service to a segment of people that otherwise would have no access to financial resources.  Dr. Yunus believes that credit is a basic human right. Without access to credit, the borrowers in Grameen Bank would face yet another hurdle to upward social mobility. Professionally this has helped me look at the world in a different light. Despite the ever-increasing force of globalization many of todays poor people face barriers to entry to things they need to help them overcome their situation. This can be seen in quality education, healthcare and as Grameen Bank has pointed out – financial services. Speaking with borrowers that were helped with loans as low as $100 has sparked my interest in development. In the future I hope to use my business skills in ways that can help others.

This leads me to my second key learning experience – meeting with Dr. Yunus and the Yunus Center. Just recently Dr. Yunus was ousted as the managing director of Grameen Bank due to government regulations. He had founded the organization back in 1983. Despite this sad event Dr. Yunus is now busy spreading a new type of development – social business. Social Business is just like any regular profit-maximizing business except its goal is not to maximize value for shareholders but it is to solve a social problem. I got the opportunity to learn about this concept in detail with meetings at the Yunus Center and by reading Dr. Yunus’s books.  Through Social Business entrepreneurs and business leaders can solve the world’s problems while still being sustainable. Social Business differs from most aid organizations because it refunds the donors money and eventually becomes a normal business.  Professionally it was amazing to see that my future industry has a chance to do more in the world than help its shareholders. This new concept of Social Business can be revolutionary and has already started. Grameen Danone in Bangladesh is a joint venture with Danone – a yogurt manufacturer. It provides cheap, healthy yogurt for children that helps fight malnutrition. Its great to see social initiatives that business’s can be apart of.  I hope to learn more about Social Business as it progresses and hopefully be apart of one some day.

My final key learning experience had to be meeting other people with my same interests from all across the world. The other interns were an extremely diverse group. The ages ranged from 18-31 and everyone’s background and education were all different. There was one other American, two Japanese, three Italians, three from the UK and a few from other countries. It was exciting getting to spend time with these people and explore a new country with them. For most, including myself, it was their first time in Bangladesh. Interviewing borrowers, meeting with bank staff and experiencing the local culture were all the more enjoyable with others with same desires. We all got to learn and experience Bangladesh coming from homes drastically different.  Being in a foreign country with other interns has really sparked my desire to travel even more. Being in Bangladesh fro three weeks gave me a taste of how different the world is. I now wish to study aboard if I have the chance. In addition living and working aboard seems like a true possibility after graduation.  International exposure is key to understanding a global economy.

Overall my Grameen Bank internship could not have gone more smoothly. I have had some unforgettable experiences that have made my desire to learn more about development and go aboard grow strong. It was great to experience business in such a unique light. Most internship are about doing grueling tasks and working for superiors. The Grameen Bank internship was the complete opposite, with exposure, education and dialogue at its core. Professionally I hope to continue to challenge myself in the future with both unique and traditional internship roles.

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