“Banker to the Poor” wins 2006 Nobel Peace prize

  • post Type / Growth and Development
  • Date / 1 November 2006

IHEU extends its congratulations to Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank, winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mohammed Yunus made his first loan, about £14, in 1976 to a group of 42 women in Bangladesh. They repaid him in full. His system of lending to a small group rather than individuals and to women who accepted family planning has stood the test of time. 30 years later his Grameen Bank has made over £2.9 billion in loans and his methods have been copied in over 50 countries. It is estimated that over 100 million people have benefited from his invention of micro-credit, now recognized as one of the most important tools in the struggle against poverty.

His success has not come without occasional setbacks. In 1995 the bank suffered a crippling boycott on repayments organized by religious parties angered by its emphasis on improving the status of women, and several branches of the bank were targeted by Islamist bombers in 2005.

Forhaving the inspiration of lending to the poor and the courage to see it through, Mohammed Younus is one of the more worthy recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here is the full text of the Citation:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

Mohammad 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 microcredit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world.

Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.

Microcredit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.

Yunus’s long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision cannot be realised by means of microcredit alone. But Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing efforts to achieve it, micro-credit must play a major part.

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