Muhammad Yunus Profile

Professor Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his revolutionary work in establishing the Grameen Movement; this movement, based on micro-finance for the rural poor, combines capitalism and social responsibility and has transformed the lives of millions across the world.

In his home country, Bangladesh, he has had an unparalleled influence on rural development and politics. His ideas on village government (Gram Sarkar) were officially adopted by his government in 1980. Prior to that he was honored with the President’s award for his concept of three share cooperative farming.

Professor Yunus took a PhD in economics from Vanderbilt University in 1969 as a Fulbright scholar, moving on to become assistant professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University. He then returned to his home country to work in the Economics Department of Chittagong University. He has worked on many United Nations projects, amongst them the Global Commission on Women’s Health, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance.

In his home country Professor Yunus has served on many committees and commissions with remits ranging from education to disaster prevention to banking. He has received numerous international awards in addition to the Nobel Prize, amongst them the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1989) and the World Food Prize from the World Food Prize Foundation (1994). In Bangladesh he was given the Independence Day Award in 1987, the highest honor the nation can bestow.

Professor Yunus has recently published Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs, demonstrating how social business has become globally accepted as an effective and inspiring methodology. In his book and his speeches he explains the transformational effect of social business and gives guidance for those who wish either to create their own social business or incorporate its principles into an existing entity.

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      • As founder of the Grameen Movement, Professor Muhammad Yunus is a revolutionary. His ideas couple capitalism with social responsibility and have changed the face of rural economic and social development forever.

    Professor Yunus is responsible for many innovative programs benefiting the rural poor. In 1974, he pioneered the idea of Gram Sarker (village government) as a form of local government based on the participation of rural people. This concept proved successful and was adopted by the Bangladeshi government in 1980. In 1978, he received the President′s award for Tebhaga Khamar (a system of cooperative three-share farming, which the Bangladeshi government adopted as the Packaged Input Program in 1977).

    A Fulbright Scholar at Vanderbilt University, Professor Yunus received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1969. Later that year, he became an assistant professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University, before returning to Bangladesh where he joined the Economics Department at Chittagong University.

    The UN secretary general appointed Professor Yunus to the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing from 1993 to 1995. Professor Yunus has also served on the Global Commission of Women′s Health (1993-1995), the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development (1993-present), and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance. He also serves as the chair of the Policy Advisory Group (PAG) of Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP).

    Yunus has also served on many committees and commissions dealing with education, population, health, disaster prevention, banking, and development programs. He is currently on the boards of many international organizations including Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (a Grameen replication project), the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and Credit and Savings for the Poor in Malayasia. Professor Yunus also sits on the board of the Calvert World Values Fund, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, the National Council for Freedom From Hunger, RESULTS and the International Council of Ashoka Foundation, all of which are located in the US.

    Professor Yunus has received the following International awards: the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1984) from Manila; the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1989) from Geneva; the Mohamed Shabdeen Award for Science (1993) from Sri Lanka; and the World Food Prize by World Food Prize Foundation (1994) from the US. Within Bangladesh, he has received the President′s Award (1978), Central Bank Award (1985), and the Independence Day Award (1987), the nation′s highest award.

    Professor Muhammad Yunus serves in the boards of many national and international organizations. 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, Grameen Textile company, Grameen Knitwear company, Grameen Renewable Energy company, Grameen Health company, Grameen Education company, Grameen Agriculture company, Grameen Fisheries and Livestock company, Grameen Business Promotion company.

    In his new book Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs, Yunus shows how social business has gone from being a theory to an inspiring practice, adopted by leading corporations, entrepreneurs, and social activists across Asia, South America, Europe and the US. He demonstrates how social business transforms lives; offers practical guidance for those who want to create social businesses of their own; explains how public and corporate policies must adapt to make room for the social business model; and shows why social business holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.

    His autobiography, Banker to the Poor, was published in 1998 & became a New York Times Best-Seller.

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Muhammad Yunus's Speech Descriptions

Using the experience gleaned through his astonishing career as a social activist and promoter of beneficial capitalism, Professor Yunus explains to his audiences why poverty is not the fault of the poor but the fault of formal systems which ignore them.

The Professor speaks on the importance of the Millennium Development Goal of halving global poverty by 2015. He illustrates that not only is the existence of poverty a great social injustice but that poverty simply need not exist if the poor are given equality of opportunity; as he says, “The poor themselves can create a poverty free world.”

One of the crucial tools in freeing the poor from property is access to credit; micro-loans enable those who would never have a chance of obtaining credit from a conventional bank the opportunity to access seed capital for business ventures. Professor Yunus tells the fascinating story of the Grameen Bank which he established for such a purpose and which was awarded, along with him, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Achieving Lasting Peace by Eradicating Poverty

“I was not trained to understand self-help. I was trained, like all students of economics, to believe that all people, as they grow up, should prepare themselves to get jobs at the job market. If you fail to get a job, you register yourself for government charity. But I could not hold on to these beliefs when I faced the real life of the poor people in Bangladesh. For most of them [the] job market did not mean much. For survival they turned to economic activities on their own. But the economic institutions and policies did not take notice of their struggle. They were rejected by the formal systems for no fault of their own....” -From a speech given by Professor Yunus

Halving Poverty by 2015

“I have chosen to speak on the most daring of all Millennium Development Goals: halving poverty by 2015. I have chosen it for two reasons. First, this is the most courageous goal mankind ever set for itself. For the last two decades I have been talking about creating a world free from poverty. I talk about it not because it is unjust to have a world with poverty, which is, of course, true. I talk about it simply because I am totally convinced from my experience of working with poor people that they can get themselves out of poverty if we give them the same or similar opportunities as we give to others. The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world....” -From a speech given by Professor Yunus

Ending Global Poverty, One Loan at a Time

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker and economist. He previously was a professor of economics and is famous for his successful application of microcredit ; the extension of small loans. These loans are given 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." Yunus himself has received several other national and international honors.

He is the author of Banker to the Poor and a founding board member of Grameen Foundation. In early 2007 Yunus showed interest in launching a political party in Bangladesh named Nagorik Shakti (Citizen Power), but later discarded the plan. He is one of the founding members of Global Elders.

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Books by Muhammad Yunus:

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity′s Most Pressing Needs

The Nobel Peace Prize-winner shows how the social business model can harness the entrepreneurial spirit to address poverty, hunger, and disease

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Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

In this newly updated national bestseller, Nobel Peace Prize–winner Muhammad Yunus outlines his vision of a new business model that combines the power of free markets with the quest for a more humane world.

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Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle against World Poverty

The simple idea of micro-loans is revolutionizing developing economies. Instead of lending large sums of money to often corrupt bureaucracies, economist Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen Bank to offer tiny sums, as little as $5, to individual craftspeople, tenant farmers, and subsistence entrepreneurs so they could keep themselves afloat between buying and selling.

That was in 1983. Sixteen years later, with $2.5 billion being dispersed annually to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh and repayment rates close to 100 percent, Yunus is being hailed as the father of a new economic model that is bringing people out of poverty. In Banker to the Poor, Yunus explains why his program works.

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