Learn more about Muhammad Yunus
|মুহাম্মদ ইউনুস |
|Born||June 28 1940|
Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D. (Bengali: মুহাম্মদ ইউনুস, pronounced Muhammod Iunus) (born June 28 1940), is a Bangladeshi banker and economist. He is the developer and founder of the concept of microcredit, the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Yunus is also the founder of Grameen Bank. In 2006, Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Yunus himself has received several other international honors, including the ITU World Information Society Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, the World Food Prize and the Sydney Peace Prize. He is the author of Banker to the Poor and a founding board member of Grameen Foundation.
 Childhood and family
Yunus was born in 1940 in the village of Bathua, in Hathazari, Chittagong, Bangladesh. His father's name is Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar, and mother's name is Sufia Khatun. His early childhood years were spent in the village. In 1947, his family moved to the city of Chittagong, where his father had a jewelry business.
Yunus is married to Afroji Yunus, a professor of physics at Jahangirnagar University. He is the father of two daughters: Dina Yunus and Monica Yunus. <ref name="Palo-interview">Interview with Muhammad Yunus, from Prothom Alo Eid Magazine, 2003. </ref> His brothers are also active in academia: his brother Muhammad Ibrahim is a professor of physics at Dhaka University and the founder of an organization that brings science education to adolescent girls in villages The Center for Mass Education in Science (CMES); his younger brother Muhammad Jahangir is a popular television presenter.
 Education and early career
Yunus studied at his village school in the early years. When his family moved to Chittagong, he enrolled in the Lamabazar Primary School. Later, he studied at Chittagong Collegiate School and passed the matriculation examination, in which he secured the 16th position among 39,000 students in East Pakistan. During his school years, he was active in the Boy Scouts, and travelled to West Pakistan and India in 1952. In 1955, he attended the World Scouts Jamboree in Canada as part of the Pakistan contingent. On the way back, he traveled through Europe and Asia by road. Next, Yunus enrolled into Chittagong College where he was active in cultural activies and got awards for acting in dramas. <ref name="Palo-interview" />
In 1957, he enrolled in the department of economics at Dhaka University and completed his BA in 1960 and MA in 1961. Following his graduation, Yunus joined in the Bureau of Economics. There he worked as research assistant to the economical researchs of Professor Nurul Islam and Rehman Sobhan <ref>An interview of Dr. Muhammad Yunus conducted by Matiur Rahman, Editor, the daily Prothom Alo-a Bangladeshi daily news paper, written in Bangla</ref>. Later he was appointed as a lecturer in economics in Chittagong College and joined there in 1961<ref>An interview of Dr. Muhammad Yunus conducted by Matiur Rahman, Editor, the daily Prothom Alo-a Bangladeshi daily news paper, written in Bangla</ref>. He obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University in the United States in 1969 after getting a Fulbright scholarship. From 1969 to 1972, Yunus was an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University before moving back to Bangladesh, where he joined Chittagong University as an economics professor.
Yunus first got involved in fighting poverty during the famine of 1974 in Bangladesh. He discovered that very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person. His first loan consisted of US$27 from his own pocket, which he lent to women in the village of Jobra — near Chittagong University — who made bamboo furniture. They had to take out usurious loans in order to buy bamboo. They then sold these items to the moneylenders to repay them. With a net profit of 5 Bangladeshi taka (.02 USD), the women were unable to support their families. However, traditional banks were not interested in making tiny loans at more reasonable interest rates to poor people, who were considered repayment risks.<ref>BBC report on Muhammad Yunus</ref>
During this time, he established a rural economic programme as a research project. In 1974, he developed a Tebhaga Khamar (three share farm) which the government adopted as the Packaged Input Programme. <ref name="Palo-interview" /> In order to make the project more effective, Yunus and his associates proposed another project called 'Gram Sarkar' (the village government)<ref>Ramon Magsaysay Award Citation </ref>. The government adopted it in 1980, but the succeeding regime later lifted it away.
 Yunus and Bangladesh Liberation War
In 1970, on the way to getting his PhD, Yunus joined Middle Tennessee State University. In 1971, the Liberation War of Bangladesh started. Yunus joined in the activities of raising support for the liberation war. With other Bangladeshis living in the United States, he founded the Bangladesh Citizen's Committee. Then they started the Bangladesh Information Centre in New York. Later, he helped Bangladeshi officers working in the Pakistan Embassy in the United States to get themselves out from the embassy. He was also an active participant of the Bangladesh Defence League founded by Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan, which tried to supply arms and ammunitions to the 'Muktibahini (Freedom Fighters). <ref>A Bengali Interview of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Daily Prothom Alo, October 14, 2006.</ref>
 Founding the Grameen Bank
In 1976, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank (Grameen means "of rural area", "of village") to make loans to poor Bangladeshis. The Grameen Bank has issued more than US$ 5.1 billion to 5.3 million borrowers. To ensure repayment, the bank uses a system of "solidarity groups". These small informal groups apply together for loans and its members act as co-guarantors of repayment and support one another's efforts at economic self-advancement<ref>Ramon Magsaysay Award Citation</ref>. As it has grown, the Grameen Bank has also developed other systems of alternate credit that serve the poor. In addition to microcredit, it offers education loans and housing loans as well as financing for fisheries and irrigation projects, venture capital, textiles, and other activities, along with other banking services such as savings.
The success of the Grameen model has inspired similar efforts throughout the developing world and even in industrialized nations, including the United States. The Grameen model of micro financing has been emulated in 23 countries. Many, but not all, microcredit projects also retain its emphasis on lending specifically to women. More than 96% of Grameen loans have gone to women, who suffer disproportionately from poverty and who are more likely than men to devote their earnings to their families. 
Contrary to common belief, the Grameen bank does not offer interest-free loans. The bank has a sustainable business model whereby borrowers are expected to pay a certain interest as part of 52 (weekly) installments over a year. Also, the bank gets supplementary seed funding from various overseas organizations (including charitable organizations), often at very low (or zero) rates of interest. While the dealings of the bank are certainly above board, there are two major criticisms:
- 1. The Grameen bank does not reach the poorest of the poor.
- 2. The long term impact of micro-credit on the economy.
The poorest of the poor cannot afford Grameen loans because they have no means to repay, at least not a week after they have taken a loan.
 Nobel prize
Muhammad Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank, for "their efforts to create economic and social development from below."<ref>The Norwegian Nobel Committee.</ref> He is the first and so far only Bangladeshi to win the prestigious award. The award also marked a shift away from the conventions by awarding it to someone who worked to promote peace indirectly through economic upliftment of the masses.
The announcement read:
|The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.|
The 65-year-old economist said he would use part of his share of the $1.4 million award to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh, he said. The food company, to be known as Social Business Enterprise, will sell food for a nominal price.
 Other Grameen Sectors
- Grameen Phone – Pioneer of Telecommunication
- Village Phone
The Gramer Phone (Village Phone) (পল্লি ফোন, polli fon) project is another brainchild of Dr. Yunus that aims to bring phone connectivity to the rural population of Bangladesh, and at the same time give entrepreneural opportunities to rural women. Village Phone works by the basic idea of providing small amount loans to rural women to buy cellular phones to set up "public call centers" at their homes. Income generated by the call centers is used to pay off the loans.
- Grameen Star Education
- Grameen Check
For the moral of self-dependence, Dr. Yunus started a trend to wear simple local clothes and opened a small section for clothing. He also always wears Grameen Check. Now, it is one of the most popular trend among all classes of people of Bangladesh, especially in the capital of Dhaka. There are dozens of Grameen-based showrooms all over the country.
Additionally, Prof. Yunus has been awarded 27 honorary doctorate degrees (all but one a doctorate), and 15 special awards. The Grameen Bank website includes a List of Awards Received by Professor Muhammad Yunus.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton was a vocal advocate for the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Muhammed Yunus. He expressed this in Rolling Stone magazine<ref>The birth of micro credit, CNN, March 29, 2001</ref> as well as in his autobiography My Life.<ref>Left Behind - By Bangladesh: Bangladeshi girls have higher rates of school attendance than Indian girls The Telegraph, October 2, 2005</ref> In a speech given at University of California, Berkeley in 2002, President Clinton described Dr. Yunus as "a man who long ago should have won the Nobel Prize [and] I’ll keep saying that until they finally give it to him." <ref> President Clinton's Talk at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, CA, USA on January 29, 2002</ref>
 See also
 External links
- Grameen Bank, Yunus's dream
- MuhammadYunus.org, Dedicated global gateway about Dr. Muhammad Yunus
- Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus
- Yunus' biography - The World Food Prize
- Profile: 'World banker to the poor'
- Article on Muhammad Yunus at BusinessWeek, December 26, 2005
- CNN article The birth of micro credit, 2001.
- A speech by Muhammad Yunus
- An interview with him
- SAJAforum.org Q&A from around the world with Muhammad Yunus (audio/MP3 42 minutes)
- Audio-Interview with M. Yunus, by Wolfgang Blau (a.k.a. Harrer) and Alysa Selene, ZDF Germany
- A collection of video documentaries of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank
- A video by Muhammad Yunus talking about Grameen Bank
- Nobel peace prize: Well deserved, but…Prof Taj Hashmi, who has worked closely with him, hails the award, but takes a hard look at the reasons behind the choice.
- Interview with Yunus by John Carlin of the Observer (UK)
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Iunus, Muhammod (alternate transliteration); মুহাম্মদ ইউনুস (Bengali)|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Economist and banker|
|DATE OF BIRTH||June 28 1940|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Chittagong, Bangladesh|
|DATE OF DEATH||living|
|PLACE OF DEATH|
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