OSLO, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) – The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank which offers loans to poor people without any financial security. “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means,” said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
“Muhammad 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.”
Yunus, dubbed “Banker to the Poor,” began fighting poverty during a 1974 famine in Bangladesh with a loan of 27 dollars to some villagers to save them from the clutches of the moneylenders.
The economics professor is now seen as one of the main developers of the concept of “microcredit,” which gives entrepreneurs who are too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans very small sums to start up their own enterprises.
Borrowers used the loans to buy their own tools and equipment, cutting out the middlemen and transforming their lives through self-employment.
The Grameen Bank