Prof. Yunus was born in 1940, in Chittagong, Bangladesh. After serving as a lecturer in Chittagong College, he obtained his PhD in economics. After returning to Bangladesh in 1972, he observed the difficulties facing poor people due to the famine in 1974, and started activities to eradicate poverty in the country. In 1983, he founded Grameen Bank, a form of bank that offers microloans. Under the core concept of Grameen Bank being about “banking without collateral for the poorest of the poor,” he has contributed significantly to the alleviation of poverty by supporting self-reliance among the poor in rural areas, and by offering small loans to self-employed, low-income people, especially women.
In appreciation of his achievements, Prof. Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He has received more than 100 awards in all, from countries and regions around the world, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award (often referred to as “Asia’s Nobel Prize”), the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US Congressional Gold Medal Award, the World Food Prize, the Nikkei Asia Prize, and the Fukuoka Prize. Professor Yunus has also received more than 40 honorable titles (such as emeritus professor) from universities around the world.
Prof. Yunus runs more than 50 Grameen affiliates that provide solutions to various social issues in education, health and medicine, energy, IT, communications, and more, all aiming to eradicate poverty by taking a business-led approach. While developing and promoting social businesses in Bangladesh aimed at local industry promotion, the widespread use of communication technology, the use of renewable energy and more, he continues to implement social business practices through partnerships with the United Nations, multinational enterprises, universities and other institutions around the world.
What is Microcredit/Microfinance?
The small loan system that Prof. Yunus developed when founding Grameen Bank is currently referred to as “Microcredit,” and is now practiced all over the world. People suffering from poverty are aided by such loans in more than 130 countries, not only in developing countries but also in developed western nations. In New York City, for example, there is a program called “Grameen America,” which offers financial services to local women who intend to start a business or expand an existing businesses (mostly single mothers struggling to be self-reliant and maintain their pride).
Developed from microcredit, “microfinance” includes a wide range of financial services, including microcredit, savings, insurance, wiring of funds, etc. On top of loans, Grameen Bank also offers various financial services, such as savings plans, life insurance and pension plans.
What is Grameen Bank?
In early 1970’s, just after Bangladesh gained independence, political turmoil and natural disasters brought confusion to the country. In particular, the rural poor suffered from famine. Prof. Yunus saw the difficulties people faced, and founded a bank for the poor to alleviate poverty. The bank was named Grameen Bank, literally “Bank of the Villages,” and was launched in Bengali.
Grameen Bank offers collateral-free microloans to poor people who would not ordinarily be able to borrow money from conventional banks. The features of Grameen Bank are the following:
Grameen Bank developed its methodology and systems according to the economic needs of the poor, and formulated the reasonable terms and conditions the loans. This enables the poor, in each stage of borrowing, to acquire the practical skills needed to earn a stable income. To honor his achievements, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Prof. Yunus and Grameen Bank in 2006.
Currently, Grameen Bank provides services to the poor of all villages in Bangladesh as a nationwide bank. It has about 8 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women. Its repayment rate is about 98%.
Since the establishment of Grameen Bank, Prof. Yunus has founded companies in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, renewable energy, IT, education, maternal and child health and handweaving in an effort to create sustainable solutions to poverty through multiple approaches. Then, to deliver fundamental changes to the structure of capitalist economies, he introduced the concept of “social business” during the awards ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. This concept included a number of projects that started with microcredit. Social business encourages looking out for other people’s interests. It allows people to profit for themselves and be altruistic at the same time by running a business as a sustainable solution to social problems. The features of social businesses that set them apart from conventional businesses are the following:
Objective: The company must solve a social problem through the business.
Means: Self-reliance and sustainability are achieved by adopting a business approach.
Income: Income must be used for employee benefits and reinvestment, rather than on dividends.
Here are the seven principles as written by Prof. Yunus. Based on these altruistic values, “a company that generates no loss and no dividends” can successfully achieve social objectives.
The “Yunus Social Business” that Prof. Yunus established in Bangladesh and practices internationally has attracted global attention as a business that can change the world. This business is growing day by day through efforts such as joint ventures with major companies, collaborations with UN organizations or educational/research institutes, projects or business start-ups in foreign countries, the fostering of entrepreneurs, the creation of student networks, and more.
Grameen family of businesses
Grameen founded companies:
Grameen Fabrics & Fashion Ltd.
Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing
Grameen GC Eye Care Hospital
Grameen Phone Ltd.
Grameen Cybernet Ltd.
Grameen Solutions Ltd.
Grameen Information Highways Ltd.
Grameen Bitek Ltd.
Grameen Uddog (Enterprise)
Grameen Knitwear Ltd.
Grameen Shikkha (Education)
Grameen Capital Management Ltd.
Grameen Byabosa Bikash
Grameen Health Care Trust
Grameen Health Care Service Ltd.
Grameen Krishi Foundation
Grameen Motsho (Fisheries) Foundation
Grameen Danone Food Ltd.
Grameen Veolia Water Ltd.
BASF Grameen Ltd.
Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd.
Grameen Yukiguni Matiake Ltd.
Grameen Schneider Electric
The Grameen Creative Lab
Yunus Social Business
Grameen Crédit Agricole Social Business Fund
Grameen Caldas Social Business Fund
Yunus Social Business Fund Mumbai
Social Business Incubator Fund Haiti
Social Business Incubator Fund Albania
danone.communities mutual fund