National Geographic : 1998 Oct
rmy of entrepreneurs Saluting the future, women meeting near Dhaka to repay loans acknowl edge the loan officer from Grameen Bank, who freed them from lives of powerlessness and isolation. "We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall keep free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage"-so runs the creed Gra meen clients, who are 95 percent female and 100 percent poor, recite as a promise to break from traditions of poverty. Launched into business with a small loan, a woman travels from door to door selling cookware (below). Anowara Begum (below right) used a loan of $390 to buy a cellular phone, which fellow villagers pay to use. Soon after the death of her husband, Anowara hears from her brother in Malaysia while their mother weeps. For birthrates to keep falling, experts say women must be offered opportunities beyond moth erhood and given the authority to choose whether to bear children.