Nurjahan is a borrower of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Her name means “the light of the world.” Abandoned by her parents at three months of age and raised by a neighbor, Nurjahan was married at twelve only to be abandoned by her husband a year later, while three months pregnant. She returned to the family who had raised her, cooking for them while raising her son.
Before joining Grameen, Nurjahan had never earned more than $37.50 in a year and owned no land. After five years as a borrower with the Grameen Bank, her annual income is $250 (just above the national average) and she owns two goats, one pregnant cow, ten hens, and two-thirds of an acre of land. The land cost $1,000, more than four times the average annual income. Seasonally, she employs two farm-hands to assist with her rice crop. In a country where only 46 percent of the children reach grade five, Nurjahan’s son is now in 8th grade.