If you have been involved in the fight against poverty and hunger, you are probably very familiar with the name Mohammad Yunus. He is considered a pioneer in the now-expanding microcredit movement, which provide small loans with very low interest rates to entrepreneurs (especially women) too poor to qualify for credits from commercial banks.
"As a young economics professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh in 1976, Muhammad Yunus lent $27 out of his own pocket to a group of poor craftsmen in the nearby town of Jobra," said Businessweek magazine. "To boost the impact of that small sum, Yunus volunteered to serve as guarantor on a larger loan from a traditional bank, kindling the idea for a village-based enterprise called the Grameen Project. It never occurred to the professor that his gesture would inspire a whole category of lending and propel him to the top of a powerful financial institution.
Today, Yunus runs Bangladesh's Grameen Bank, a leading advocate for the world's poor that has lent more than $5.1 billion to 5.3 million people.
Yunus' efforts have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world, which now uses his model to develop microcredit programs. On Dec. 10, Nobel Prize committee will honor Yunus and the Grameen Bank with its Nobel Peace Prize.
Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.
Yunus' efforts will also be celebrated in Albuquerque. On Sunday, Dec. 10, our friends from RESULTS (one of our local partners in The ONE Campaign) will commemorate Yunus' Nobel Peace Prize with a party at Two Fools Tavern, 3211 Central (NE) in Nob Hill, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Snacks will be provided, and atendees may purchase drinks. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration.
RESULTS has been a leading advocate of expansion of microcredits at the global level.
Yunus believes that there is no reason for poverty to exist in our world. "The one message that we are trying to promote all the time, that poverty in the world is an artificial creation. It doesn't belong to human civilization, and we can change that, we can make people come out of poverty and have the real state of affairs," Yunus told the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. "So the only thing we have to do is to redesign our institutions and policies, and there will be no people who will be suffering from poverty. So I would hope that this award will make this message heard many times, and in a kind of forceful way, so that people start believing that we can create a poverty-free world. That's what I would like to do."
Yunus follows another citizen of South Asia in gaining recognition from the Nobel Peace Prize committee for anti-poverty work. In 1998, Professor Amartya Sen, an expert on world poverty, won the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. Sen has written that fighting poverty should be a national and global priority, particularly in the current era of globalization.
(Note: Above photo comes from Nobel Peace Prize Website)