The Power of Deshi Innovation

I started my career in the banking sector as an idealistic bohemian drowning in a sea of MBAs, working at a local Bangladeshi bank with strong ties to rural development. While I specifically sought out an organization that would deepen my understanding of development issues, the case was very different for most of my fellow colleagues for whom the ultimate dream was to have a prestigious high paying job at a multinational bank or corporation. While I too whined about the drawbacks of working for a local firm such as the low pay, lack of benefits, the less than stellar working environment etc., I eventually came to realize that local Bangladeshi firms had something else to offer. The realization came only after I had completely removed myself from the situation, having left the job and the country to pursue my Masters degree at the University of Oxford. One of the university clubs I became involved with was the Oxford Microfinance Initiative, where I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of smart and energetic young students who were well versed and extremely knowledgeable regarding the micro-finance sector in Bangladesh, particularly the Grameen Bank micro-finance model and the social business model advocated by our home grown Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Yunus. That is when it really occurred to me that Bangladesh is the birthplace of a banking revolution. While the conventional western banking system is in shambles, our unique brand of banking which was adapted specifically to solve local problems, has captured the imagination of the rest of the world and they are eagerly observing us and waiting to see what else we have to offer, whether it be in the field of banking, climate change adaptation, public health etc. etc. The people of the world are looking to us for answers. Looking back, I feel quite bad about having taken for granted my involvement in the banking sector in Bangladesh. It has been a privilege to be a part of this movement and I only hope that my ex colleagues working at local banks feel the same way one day.

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