Professor Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, fuelled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. His objective was to help poor people escape poverty by providing loans on terms suitable to them and by teaching them a few sound financial principles so they could help themselves.
From Dr. Yunus’ personal loan of small amounts of money to destitute craftspeople in Bangladesh in the mid-70s, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through micro-lending. Replicas of the Grameen Bank model operate in almost every country of the world.
In October 2006, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.” The Committee said, “Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means.”
Born in 1940 in the seaport city of Chittagong, Professor Yunus studied at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, then received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt in 1969 and the following year became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. Returning to Bangladesh, Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University.
From 1993 to 1995, Professor Yunus was a member of the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women, a post to which he was appointed by the UN secretary general. He has served on the Global Commission of Women’s Health, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance and is a member of the high level advisory group on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) of the United Nations.
Professor Yunus is the recipient of numerous international awards for his ideas and endeavours, including Ramon Magsaysay Award (1984); Mohamed Shabdeen Award for Science (1993), Sri Lanka; Humanitarian Award (1993), CARE, USA; World Food Prize (1994), World Food Prize Foundation, USA; Independence Day Award (1987), Bangladesh’s highest award; Sydney Peace Prize (1998), Sydney Peace Foundation; King Hussein Humanitarian Leadership Award (2000), King Hussein Foundation, Jordan; Volvo Environment Prize (2003), Volvo Environment Prize Foundation, Sweden; Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth (2004), Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan; Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Award (2006), Roosevelt Institute of The Netherlands; the Seoul Peace Prize (2006), Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation, Seoul, Korea; and the Nobel Peace Prize (2006), Norwegian Nobel Committee, Norway.