Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and banker who established the Grameen bank in his country in 1983. The Grameen bank and Yunus were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.” As a professor of Economics, he studied the prevailing principles of finance and credit in his country which prevented the poor entrepreneurs from qualifying for bank loans, thus robbing them of the chance to overcome their poverty. He started out by giving personal loans of very small or “micro” amounts to destitute basket weavers so that they could support themselves. The establishment of the Grameen Bank in 1983 was the manifestation of his desire to help poor people. As on today, several other banks modeled on the Grameen Bank business model operate in over 100 countries. Yunus had always been interested in social issues. Even while he was in the U.S, he took an active interest in the welfare of his home country and ran the Bangladesh Information Center to raise support for liberation during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. He became interested in poverty reduction methods after a famine struck Bangladesh in 1974. He is a member of the board of the United Nations Foundation and has won numerous awards for his endeavors.
The idea for Grameen Bank originated in Yunus’s mind while conducting a research programme in the 1970’s for designing a banking system that would help the poor in overcoming their poverty.
Initially he started by personally lending small amounts of money to the poor in Jobra village 1976. Then he sought support from the Central Bangladesh Bank to extend micro-credit facilities to other places as well. The project was immensely successful.
In 1983, the Grameen Bank was officially incorporated by a Bangladeshi government ordinance. The bank also received help in form of a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Yunus’s purpose of setting up the bank was to make available small loans to the poor at reasonable rates in order to encourage self-employment opportunities that would help the poor in utilizing their skills and making economic gains. It has been estimated that 97% of the borrowers from Grameen Bank are women.
Over the years, the Grameen Bank has grown to encompass over two dozen enterprises, all dedicated to the betterment of society. These include: Grameen Trust, Grameen Fund, Grameen Telecom, Grameen Shakti, etc.
awards: 1978 – President’s Award
1984 – Ramon Magsaysay Award
1985 – Bangladesh Bank Award
1987 – Shwadhinota Dibosh Puroshkar
1989 – Aga Khan Award for Architecture
1993 – CARE Humanitarian Award
1994 – World Food Prize
1995 – Max Schmidheiny Freedom Prize
1996 – UNESCO Simón Bolívar Prize
1998 – Indira Gandhi Prize
1998 – Prince of Asturias Award
1998 – Sydney Peace Prize
2001 – Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize
2004 – The Volvo Environment Prize
2004 – The Economist the newspaper’s Prize for social and economic innovation
2006 – Mother Teresa Award instituted
2006 – Millennium Award
2006 – Freedom from Want Award
2006 – ITU World Information Society Award
2006 – Seoul Peace Prize
2006 – Nobel Peace Prize
2007 – The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal awarded by Vanderbilt University
2007 – Order of the Liberator in First Class
2008 – Corine Award
2009 – The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Leadership and Service
2009 – Presidential Medal of Freedom
2010 – President’s Medal
2010 – Congressional Gold Medal
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