Nobel winner praises CTBC effort to help poor


By John Liu, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus paid a visit to CTBC Charity Foundation on Saturday, where he lauded CTBC Bank’s effort to provide loan services to the poor and help them break out of poverty. As the founder of Grameen Bank, the Bangladeshi Nobel laureate coined the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, and provided loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. CTBC is the only financial institution in Taiwan that concurred with Yunus by offering loans to the poor and disadvantaged, according to Roger Kao (高人傑), CEO of CTBC Charity Foundation. CTBC Charity Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr. (辜仲諒) said that he was inspired by Yunus’ idea in 2011 and consequently created CTBC’s Poverty Alleviation Program (信扶專案), which provides loan services to the disadvantaged who aim to become self-employed. In addition to low interest rates, the program also offers 1-on-1 entrepreneurial counseling.

The program, which has approved 44 applications and doled out over NT$160 million in total, was also praised by Robert Lai (賴杉桂), Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. CTBC said the program has assisted 10 entrepreneurs in getting out of poverty and being able to sustain themselves. Yunus met with Koo on Saturday. The two discussed a number of topics related to poverty issues. Yunus pointed out that while there are disparities between CTBC’s program and his own implementation and focal points, they share the same ideals, goals and directions. He also appreciated Koo’s self-reflection made in 2004 that “I have made a lot of money on behalf of shareholders, why can’t I make money for those who really need it?” It was this question that pushed Koo to dive into charity work. Yunus also called on CTBC Charity Foundation to initiate much broader efforts to solve poverty problems, for they exist in every corner of the world. Yunus also mentioned the welfare lottery implemented in Sweden, which is very similar to what CTBC is doing with the Taiwan Lottery. As Yunus and Koo found plenty of common ground, Yunus also indicated his wish for future cooperation with CTBC. CTBC’s charity program has also extended to mainland China. It has partnered with local charity foundations to launch a “next-generation education model” project, assisting disadvantaged children from destitute families in breaking out of poverty. In addition, CTBC has partnered with National Taiwan University, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration Educational Foundation in the U.S., to tackled drug abuse issues on campuses in Taiwan.