Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D.
Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D.
“Banker to the Poor;” Founder and Managing Director, Grameen Bank; Nobel Peace Prize and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner
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What if you could harness the power of the free market to solve the problems of poverty, hunger, and inequality? To some, it sounds impossible. But Dr. Muhammad Yunus is doing exactly that. As founder of Grameen Bank, Dr. Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides the poor — primarily women — with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty.
The success of Grameen Bank has been phenomenal and transformational. Today, it is a $2.5 billion banking enterprise in Bangladesh, while the microcredit model has spread to over 50 countries worldwide, from the U.S. to Papua New Guinea, Norway to Nepal. Ever optimistic, Dr. Yunus travels the globe spreading the belief that poverty can be eliminated: "...the poor, once economically empowered, are the most determined fighters in the battle to solve the population problem; end illiteracy; and live healthier, better lives. When policy makers finally realize that the poor are their partners, rather than bystanders or enemies, we will progress much faster that we do today." Dr. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus’s vision is the total eradication of poverty from the world. "Grameen," he says, "is a message of hope, a program for putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long."
For many years, the ground breaking work of Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank has become known throughout the world. Grameen Bank’s microcredit program has been replicated in nearly every country; Dr. Yunus’ vision and mission are now internationally known, and his ideas and philosophy have become part of gobal development policy. With humility and conviction, Dr. Yunus shares his powerful message with audiences around the globe and reveals the unique and extraordinary methods he developed – and continues to-- to combat human despair, promote sustainable development, engender social responsibility in individuals as well as government and corporate entities and ultimately achieve his goal of a poverty-free world.
Selected Discussion Topics Include:
- Social Business: Profit with Purpose
- Creating a World Without Poverty
- Achieving Sustainable Development
- The Role of a Global Society
ABOUT Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D. (+/-)
Vanguard in Financial Innovation
It began with a simple $27 loan. After witnessing the cycle of poverty that kept many poor women enslaved to high-interest loan sharks in Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus lent money to 42 women so they could purchase bamboo to make and sell stools. In a short time, the women were able to repay the loans while continuing to support themselves and their families. With that initial eye-opening success, the seeds of Grameen Bank, and the concept of microcredit, were planted.
A Life Mission to Eliminate Poverty
Instead of settling into a comfortable life in academia, Dr. Yunus continued to pursue his microloan experiment based on a simple, strong belief: extend credit to poor people and they will help themselves. This concept strikes at the root of poverty by specifically targeting the poorest of the poor, providing small loans (usually less than $300) to those unable to obtain credit from traditional banks. In 1983, he officially founded Grameen Bank -- meaning “village bank”—and has empowered thousands of people and surprised economic experts who never believed that the very poor would find the initiative and ability to repay even the smallest amounts. Since its inception, Grameen Bank has garnered an astonishing loan repayment rate of over 98 percent, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system.
Exceptional Economic Expert
Born in 1940 in the seaport city of Chittagong, Dr. Yunus studied at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, and later 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, Dr. Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University until founding Grameen Bank in 1983.
Dr. Yunus is the recipient of numerous international awards for his ideas and endeavors including: the World Food Prize; the lndependence Day Award, Bangladesh's highest award; the King Hussein Humanitarian Leadership Award; Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Award; the Seoul Peace Prize; and the Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service. He is also a member of the board of the United Nations Foundation.