While teaching at Bangladesh’s University of Chittagong in 1976, Muhammad Yunus interviewed a stool maker named Sufia Begum.1 Because Sufia did not have the 22 cents she needed to buy bamboo, she borrowed bamboo from a middleman every day. The middleman then purchased her stools for only 2 cents more than the cost of the bamboo. Yunus asked Sufia if she could borrow money elsewhere to buy her own bamboo. She replied that she could borrow from the local moneylender, but he charged up to 10...

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