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

Muhammad Yunus

In 1983 Muhammad Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with miscule loans. He aimed to help the poor by supporting the spark of personal initiative and enterprise by which they could lift themselves out of poverty forever. It was an idea born on a day in 1976 when he loaned $27 from his own pocket to forty-two people living in a tiny village. They were stool makers who only needed enough credit to purchase the raw materials for their trade. Yunus's loan helped them break the cycle of poverty and changed their lives forever. His solution to world poverty, founded on the belief that credit is a fundamental human right, is brilliantly simple: loan poor people money on terms that are suitable to them, teach them a few sound financial principles, and they will help themselves.

Yunus's theories work. Grameen Bank has provided 3.8 billion dollars to 2.4 million families in rural Bangladesh. Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen methodology, placing Grameen at the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through micro-lending.

Muhammad Yunus was born in 1940 in Chittagong, a seaport in Bangladesh. The third of fourteen children, five of whom died in infancy, he was educated at Dhaka University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. In 1972 he became the head of the economics department at Chittagong University. He is the founder and the managing director of the Grameen Bank.
 
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