Professor Muhammad Yunus is the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, which pioneered microcredit. This is a method of banking where small loans are given to the poor, mostly to women, without collateral, for income-generating activities, to help them get out of poverty.
Prof Yunus joined the Bureau of Economics, Dhaka University. Later he was appointed as a lecturer in economics in Chittagong College in 1961. In 1965, he was offered a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States. He obtained his PhD in economics from Vanderbilt University in the US in 1969. From 1969 to 1972, he was an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN.
He became actively involved with poverty reduction after observing the famine of 1974, and established the Rural Economics Programme as part of the department’s academic programme.
In 1975, he organised Nabajug (New Era) Tebhaga Khamar (three share farm), which the government later adopted as the Packaged Input Programme.
In October 2006, Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank, for their efforts to create economic and social development. The Norwegian Nobel
Committee stated: “Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-creditinto an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty.” Prof Yunus became the first Bangladeshi and third Bengali to get a Nobel Prize.
Prof Yunus has been awarded 28 honorary doctorates and serves on the board of many national and international organisations. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers – Banker to the Poor (1997) and Creating a World without Poverty, Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (2008).