OSLO, Friday (Reuters) - Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded won the Nobel Peace Prize today for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty that earned him the nickname of “banker to the poor”.
Yunus set up a new kind of bank in the 1976 to give credit to the very poorest in his native Bangladesh, particularly women, enabling them to start up small businesses without collateral. In doing so, he invented micro-credit, a system which has been duplicated across the globe.
“In Bangladesh, where nothing works and there's no electricity,” Yunus said, “micro credit works like clockwork.”
The Nobel committee awarded the prize to Yunus and Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below,” it said in its citation.
“Lasting peace can not 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,” it said.
Yunus was convinced women could break through poverty by taking tiny loans to start or expand tiny businesses.
The Grameen Bank now serves 6.1 million borrowers.
The Grameen Foundation which grew out of the bank, was founded in 1997 and has a global network of 52 partners in 22 countries that has helped an estimated 11 million people in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East.