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Ep55 - Bob Harris

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Mixed Mental Arts

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Imagine a bank that operates in 67 countries around the world, has one employee, has made thousands of loans with an average value of $25 a pop and is committed to never making a profit but believes it can help eradicate poverty through capitalism. You just imagined The International Bank of Bob. And Bob Harris thinks what he's done is so easy and so rewarding that it won't be long before you decide to set up The International Bank of "Your Name Here".While jet setting around the world as a writer for Forbes Traveller, Bob Harris found himself wondering when luxury moves from being fun to just being a waste of money. Is it when the hotel you're staying in offers a $7438 "cocktail" that is really just a shot of whiskey in a golden take-out cup? Or is it when you charge a small fortune for a cup of coffee because it has been pooped out of the ass of a rare Indonesian cat which you claim releases the subtle flavors of the beans? (It's called Kopi Luwak.) Or maybe it's when you spend billions of dollars building islands in the shape of a world map which then get washed away? Bob wasn't sure when luxury became stupidity but he was definitely sure there was a point where it did and so, in his own small way, he decided to find a way to take half his salary and put it towards eliminating poverty. Frequently disappointed by the results of charity, he was looking for something different. And that's how he found his way to micro finance and Kiva.org.Micro finance began in 1976 when Muhammad Yunus was visiting one of the poorest parts of his home country, Bangladesh. While there, Yunus was struck by the inability of the poor to get competitive loans for their entrepreneurial projects. Because banks would not lend to them, the poorest people were forced to go to loan sharks who charged back-breaking interest rates. The result was a cycle of poverty that was difficult to escape. And that's when Yunus decided that breaking the solution to poverty might not be charity; it might be

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