Professor Muhammad Yunus Nobel Peace Prize Winner is internationally recognized for his work in poverty alleviation and the empowerment of poor women. An emotive speaker, with a wealth of innovative ideas, he talks passionately about his goals and dreams and leaves audiences inspired with his simple yet effective ideas.
In 1976, Muhammad Yunus driven by the idea that credit is a basic human right founded the Grameen Bank to make loans to poor Bangladeshis. Since then the Grameen Bank has issued more than US$ 5.1 billion to 5.6 million borrowers. The success of the Grameen model has inspired similar efforts throughout the developing world and even in industrialized nations including the USA. His methods have also been applied to Burma and in Kosovo with great success and he is now embarking upon an effort to eliminate global poverty. In 2009, Thinkers 50, the global ranking of management gurus, placed him among the top ten most influential thinkers.
Born in Chittagong, a seaport city in Bangladesh, Yunus received his PhD in economics from Vanderbilt University and became a professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. It was years later, when he returned to Bangladesh to head the economics department at Chittagong University that a fateful field trip with his students showed him the full extent of the country’s suffering. Yunus recalls, “Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me. How could I go on telling my students make believe stories in the name of economics? I needed to run away from these theories and from my textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person’s existence.” He discovered that his most successful idea was offering people tiny loans for self-employment.
The Grameen Bank was fully established as an independent bank in 1983, and today more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen Bank model. One expert in innovative government has stated that the program established by Yunus “is the single most important development in the third world in the last 100 years.” Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.”
Besides Grameen Bank he has created a number of companies in Bangladesh to address diverse issues of poverty and development. Among the companies are Grameen Phone (a mobile telephone company), Grameen Cybernet (Internet Service Provider), Grameen Communications (Rural Internet Service Provider), Grameen Software company, Grameen Information Technology Park, Grameen Fund (Social Venture Capital Company), Grameen Capital Management company and many more. He serves as a Director of Grameen Bank and Grameen Foundation USA.
In 1993 the UN Secretary-General appointed Professor Yunus to the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, a post he held for two years. He also served on the Global Commission of Women’s Health for the same period, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development (1993-present), and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance.
He has received several international honors, including the ITU World Information Society Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, the World Food Prize and the Sydney Peace Prize. In 2008 he received the Global Humanitarian Award, the “Friend of Children 2008” by Save the Children Spain, the “2008 Annual Award for Development” by OPEC Fund for International Development(OFID) Austria, the “President’s Medal” by Lehman College USA and “The Kitakyushu Environmental Award” by the Mayor of City of Kitakyushu Japan. In 2009 he was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor Award from the ATLAS, USA and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service
His autobiography “Banker to the Poor” was published in 1998 and became a New York Times Best-Seller and second book “Battle Against World Poverty” have been translated in French, Italian, Spanish, English, Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, Gujarati, Chinese, German, Turkish and Arabic.
A man who has successfully translated a single vision into tangible benefits for millions of people around the world, Yunus has proven that we can overcome the seemingly impossible as we work toward building a better future for all.
“By giving poor people the power to help themselves, Dr. Yunus has offered them something far more valuable than a plate of food – security in its most fundamental form.” Former US President Jimmy Carter
- Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism
- Microcredit & Empowering the Poorest of the Poor: A Story of Success & Hope
- Human Rights
- International Affairs
- Women’s Issues
- Feed the World
- Making Poverty History