1940-06-28 to Present
BangladeshMuhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below". The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that "lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty" and that "across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development". Yunus has received several other national and international honours. He received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.
The third of nine children, Yunus was born on 28 June 1940 to a Bengali Muslim family in the village of Bathua, by the Kaptai road in Hathazari, Chittagong in the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj, present Bangladesh.
After his graduation, Yunus joined the Bureau of Economics as a research assistant to the economics researches of Professor Nurul Islam and Rehman Sobhan. Later, he was appointed lecturer in economics in Chittagong College in 1961. During that time, he also set up a profitable packaging factory on the side.
During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Yunus founded a citizen's committee and ran the Bangladesh Information Center, with other Bangladeshis in the United States, to raise support for liberation. He also published the Bangladesh Newsletter from his home in Nashville.
In 1975, he developed a Nabajug (New Era) Tebhaga Khamar (three share farm) which the government adopted as the Packaged Input Programme. In order to make the project more effective, Yunus and his associates proposed the Gram Sarkar (the village government) programme.
In 1976, during visits to the poorest households in the village of Jobra near Chittagong University, Yunus discovered that very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person. Yunus lent US$27 of his money to 42 women in the village, who made a profit of BDT 0.50 (US$0.02) each on the loan. Thus, Yunus is credited with the idea of microcredit.
On 11 January 2007, Army General Moeen U Ahmed staged a military coup. Meanwhile, Yunus turned down his request to become the nation's fourth Chief Advisor after Khaleda Zia's term ended. Yunus, however, suggested the general pick Fakhruddin Ahmed for the job.
There was speculation that the army supported a move by Yunus into politics. On 3 May, however, Yunus declared that he had decided to abandon his political plans following a meeting with the head of the interim government, Fakhruddin Ahmed.
Since 2010, Yunus has served as a Commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN initiative which seeks to use broadband internet services to accelerate social and economic development.
On 6 December, NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) published a statement clearing Yunus and the Bank from any wrongdoing on this point, following a comprehensive review of NORAD's support commissioned by the Minister of International Development.
On 27 January 2011, Yunus appeared in court in a food-adulteration case filed by the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) Food Safety Court, accusing him of producing an "adulterated" yogurt whose fat content was below the legal minimum. According to Yunus's lawyer, the allegations are "false and baseless". At the request of Yunus's lawyers, pointing procedural irregularities and errors, this case is now considered by the High Court.
In March 2011, Yunus petitioned the Bangladesh High Court challenging the legality of the decision by the Bangladeshi Central Bank to remove him as Managing Director of Grameen Bank. The same day, nine elected directors of Grameen Bank filed a second petition.
On 2 March 2011, Muzammel Huq – a former Bank employee, whom the government had appointed Chairman in January – announced that Yunus had been fired as Managing Director of the Bank. However, Bank General Manager Jannat-E Quanine issued a statement that Yunus was "continuing in his office" pending review of the legal issues surrounding the controversy.
On 4 October 2013, Bangladesh's cabinet has approved the draft of a new law that will give the country's central bank closer control over Grameen Bank, raising the stakes in a long-running dispute with the pioneering microlender.
The new Grameen Bank law was passed by parliament on 7 November 2013, and replaced the Grameen Bank Ordinance, the law that underpinned the creation of Grameen Bank as a specialised microcredit institution in 1983.
In March 2016, he was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, which was co-chaired by presidents François Hollande of France and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.