Glasgow welcomes Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus

Issued: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 16:07:00 BST

World-renowned Bangladeshi economist and Nobel Peace Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank will be visiting the University of Glasgow on Sunday 4 July.

Professor Yunus will be delivering the keynote lecture entitled: 'Tackling Poverty for a Fairer World' at a conference organised by The Centre for Development and the University of Glasgow.

Pioneering the concept of microfinance through his Grameen 'Village' Projects, which offer small loans at low interest rates to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans, Professor Yunus has helped to transform the lives of millions of people not only in Bangladesh but in 40 other countries around the world.

As well as giving the keynote address Professor Yunus will participate in the following conference sessions:

• Fairer Banking and Credit: Search for Sustainable Community Banking for Scotland
• Community Initiatives to Tackle Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland
• Diverse Experiences and Challenges Facing Grameen-Type Poverty Alleviation Programmes Worldwide
• Bottom-up approach – Microfinance and Social Business – furthering multiplier effect as new dimension of economic development

The conference will be held from 1pm - 5.30pm on 4 July in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre. All are welcome to attend and there will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. To enroll for a free place at the event please contact The Centre for Development at: cfdscotland@hotmail.com

Further information:
Martin Shannon, Senior Media Relations Officer
University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 8593

Muhammad Yunus - Biographical details

Muhammad Yunus was born on 28 June 1940. He 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.

The third oldest of nine children, Yunus was born in the village of Bathua, Chittagong.

In 1957, he enrolled in the department of economics at Dhaka University and completed his BA in 1960 and MA in 1961. Following his graduation, Yunus joined the Bureau of Economics, Dhaka University. Later he was appointed as a lecturer in economics in Chittagong College in 1961. In 1965, Yunus was offered a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States. He obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University in the United States in 1969. From 1969 to 1972, Yunus was an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN.

During the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, Yunus founded a Citizen's Committee in Nashville, TN, published a newsletter named, Bangladesh Newsletter, and ran the Bangladesh Information Centre in Washington DC with other Bangladeshis living in the United States, to raise support for liberation of Bangladesh, and lobby at the US Congress to stop military aid to Pakistan.  Inspired by the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, Yunus returned to his motherland Bangladesh in 1972, and joined the Economics Department of University of Chittagong after a brief spell in the Planning Commission. He became actively involved with poverty reduction after observing the famine of 1974, and established Rural Economics Programme as a part of the Department’s academic programme. In 1975, he organized Nabajug (New Era) Tebhaga Khamar (three share farm) which the government later adopted as the Packaged Input Programme.

In 1976, during visits to very poor households in the village of Jobra near Chittagong University, Yunus discovered that very small loans could make an enormous difference to a poor person’s life. Jobra women who made bamboo furniture had to take out loans at usurious rates for buying bamboo, and had to give up their profits to the moneylenders. Shocked by this reality, he lent US $27.00 from his own pocket to 42 people in the village to help them pay back their loans to the loan-sharks and be free.

When he approached traditional banks to lend to the poor, he found that they were not interested as the poor were not considered creditworthy. Yunus strongly believed that given the chance the poor will repay the borrowed money, and that it would help the poor work their way out of poverty. After many efforts, Yunus finally succeeded in securing a credit line, offering himself as the guarantor, for his project from Janata Bank to lend it to the poor in Jobra in December 1976. On 2 October 1983, the project was converted into a full-fledged bank named as Grameen Bank (Village Bank), specialised in making small loans to the poor.

As of May 2008, Grameen Bank (GB) has 7.5 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. With 2,515 branches, GB provides services in 82,072 villages, covering more than 97 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh. It has lent over US$7 billion to the poor people with near 100 percent repayment rate, since its inception. All its money comes from the depositors of the bank.

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. The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated "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. 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 micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty”. Muhammad Yunus became the first Bangladeshi and third Bengali to ever get a Nobel Prize.

In December 2008, Muhammad Yunus was awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of Glasgow.

Muhammad Yunus is married to Dr Afrozi Yunus, and has two daughters, Monica, and Deena.


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