Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus wants two financial systems—one for the rich and one for the poor
By Eshe Nelson
For more than 40 years, Muhammad Yunus has been building a financial system for people who lack sufficient access to the one that already exists. In 2006, the now 78-year old won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as “banker to the poor.”
In the 1970s, Yunus began work on what would shortly become Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which provides small loans to entrepreneurs, primarily women, who otherwise couldn’t access funds due to a lack of collateral and other resources. This model of microfinance has since been replicated all over the world. Grameen Bank takes deposits to finance the loans it offers; it decided in 1995 that it wouldn’t accept donations. For Yunus, ending poverty isn’t about charity.
Last month, the 10-year-old US division of Grameen announced that it had provided more than $1 billion in loans to 106,000 women. Over the next decade, it plans to provide $1 billion in loans every year, and nearly double the number of branches, to 42.
Photo courtesy of Ismael Ferdous.