Prof Muhammad Yunus is the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank which pioneered microcredit – a method of banking where small loans are given to the poor, mostly to women, without collateral, for income generating activities, with high repayment rate, to help them get out of poverty.
Yunus has also founded a number of companies in Bangladesh to address diverse issues of poverty and development. These include Grameen Phone (a mobile telephone company), Grameen Shakti (Grameen Energy), Grameen Fund (Social Venture Capital Company), Grameen Textile company, Grameen Knitwear company, Grameen Education company, Grameen Agriculture company, Grameen Fisheries and Livestock company, Grameen Business Promotion company, Grameen Danone Foods Ltd, Grameen Healthcare Services, among others. He is also founder of Grameen Trust which extends the Grameen microcredit system all over the world. In October 2006, Muhammad Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank, for their efforts to create economic and social development.
His latest is the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Apart from that, he has also won a number of other awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the World Food Prize, the Sydney Peace Prize. Within Bangladesh, he has received the President’s Award (1978); Central Bank Award (1985); and Independence Day Award (1987), the highest national award. Bangladesh government brought out a commemorative stamp to honor his Nobel Award. Yunus was inducted as a member of the Legion d’Honneur by President Chirac of France. In January 2008, Houston, Texas declared January 14 as “Muhammad Yunus Day”. He is one of the founding members of Global Elders chaired by Nelson Mandela. He was the 2008 commencement speaker at MIT on June 6, 2008.