A while ago I read an article about a plan for micro loans to immigrant women in segregated Swedish suburbs. The aim is to fight unemployment in this group by helping them to start their own businesses. The inspiration, of course, comes from Bangladeshi Mohammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank. It struck me that this model, which is a designed for the conditions in extremely poor countries, is now put to use to solve problems in a very rich country. It is unexpected, but there is no reason why it would't work. Just as I was about to write this post I found this FT article that describes how Grameen Bank opens an office in New York. After having been copied by more than 40 countries the model now seems to move into the “rich” part of the world where there actually are many who can’t get loans from traditional banks. Yunus, quite rationally, sees this as a great business opportunity.
To use old concepts in situations that they are not originally designed for is innovative in itself. What makes this case especially interesting is that the concept is exported from developing countries to western economies. We don’t see that a lot, do we?