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Microcredit? To Him, It’s Only a Start

May 11, 2010

Devin Leonard in The New York Times:

IN 2006, the Nobel committee made the surprising decision to award its peace prize not to a philanthropist or a human rights activist, but to Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. What did this financier from a small, impoverished country do to deserve the world’s most prestigious award? He invented microcredit, the practice of lending tiny amounts of money to the poor.

It was a revolutionary idea. Until then, bankers figured that such borrowers were worthy of neither credit nor trust. Along came Dr. Yunus, who demonstrated that lending to the needy could be a profitable business and transform their lives. Indeed, many of Grameen’s clients used these small sums to start small businesses and to escape the clutches of poverty.

But you probably know this already. Over the years, Dr. Yunus has been embraced by rock stars like Bono and Peter Gabriel, and last year was recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. He has also been honored by major corporations eager to have their brands associated with the anti-poverty work of Grameen, which shared the Nobel with its charismatic founder.

What is Dr. Yunus doing with all the good will he has accrued? He has another initiative, one that is even more ambitious than microcredit. [More]

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