Nobel Prize Winner Banker to Bangladesh Poor

This file picture dated 19 November 1999 shows Bangladesh Grameen Bank Chairman Muhammad Yunus (R) receiving the 1998 Indira Gandhi National Award for Peace from Indian President K.R. Narayanan (AFP Photo)

Mohammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi dubbed "banker to the poor" who won the Nobel Peace prize on Friday, is celebrated for pioneering small loans to the destitute of Bangladesh.

"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means," said a statement from the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Mohammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi dubbed "banker to the poor" who won the Nobel Peace prize on Friday, is celebrated for pioneering small loans to the destitute of Bangladesh.

The economics professor began fighting poverty during a devastating famine in Bangladesh, setting up a small bank, Grameen Bank, in 1976 to give people access to credit.

The success of Grameen, which means village, and Yunus's banking concept has been emulated in more than 40 countries.

His "microcredit" scheme gives entrepreneurs who are too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans very small sums to start up their own enterprises.

The Grameen Bank now has 6.5 million borrowers, of which some 96 per cent are women.

Yunus started the bank with just 27 dollars out of his own pocket, according to the Grameen Foundation. It has now given out 5.7 billion US dollars in micro-loans.

The project set out to prove that lending to the poor was not an "impossible proposition."

By giving small loans to landless rural people, it aimed to break the exploitation of the poor by money lenders.

Borrowers used the loans to buy their own tools and equipment, cutting out the middlemen and transforming their lives through self-employment.

Source: AFP

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