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Prof. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, an internationally renowned personality was born in 28th June’1940 in the village of Bathua, in Hathazari, Chittagong, the business centre of what was then Eastern Bengal. He was the third of 14 children of whom five died in infancy. His father was a successful goldsmith, who always encouraged his sons to seek higher education. But his biggest influence was his mother, Sufia Khatun, who always helped any poor that knocked on their door. This inspired him to commit himself to eradication of poverty. His early childhood years were spent in the village, his family moved to the city of Chittagong where his father had the jewelery business.
Professor Yunus studied economics in the Vanderbilt University, USA and received his Ph.D in Economics in 1970. He taught economics in the middle Tennessee University from 1969 to 1972. Returning to Bangladesh he joined the University Chittagong as Head of the Economics Department. He started the Grameen Bank Project in 1976. It was transformed into a formal bank in 1983. This bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. GB provides credit to the poorest of the poor in rurul Bangladesh, without any collateral. At GB, credit is a cost effective weapon to fight poverty and it serves as a catalyst in the over all development of socio-economic conditions of the poor who have been kept outside the banking orbit on the ground that they are poor and hence not bankable. Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of “Grameen Bank” and its Managing Director, reasoned that if financial resources can be made available to the poor people on terms and conditions that are appropriate and reasonable, “these millions of small people with their million of small pursuits can add up to create the biggest development wonder.” As of November’2009, it has 7.95 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. With 2,562 branches, GB provides services in 83,458 villages, covering more than 100 percent of the total village in Bangladesh. Grameen methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada, France, The Netherlands and Norway. Grameen Banks positive impact on its poor and formerly poor borrowers has been documented in many independent studies carried out by external agencies including the World Bank, the International Food Research Policy Institute (IFPRI) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
Professor Yunus serves in the boards of many national and international organizations. Besides Grameen Bank he has created a number of Companies in Bangladesh to address diverse issues of poverty and development. Among the companies are: Grameen Phone, Grameen Cybernet (Internet Service Provider) Grameen Communications (Rural Internet Service Provider), Grameen Software company, Grameen Information Technology Park, Grameen Fund (Social Venture Capital Comapany) Grameen Capital Management Company, Grameen Textile Company, Grameen Knitwear Company, Grameen Renewable Energy Company, Grameen Fisheries and Live Stock Company, Grameen Business Promotion Company etc. In recognition of his contribution to various fields Dr. Yunus received over 50 awards along with Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Following are among the many international awards he has received so far:
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1984) from Philippines; Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1989) from Switzerland; Mohamed Shabdeen Award for Science, Socio Economic (1993) from Sri Lanka; World Food Prize (1994) from U.S.A.; Simon Bolivar Prize (1996) from Venezuela; Man for Peace Award (1997) from Italy, Prince of Austurias Award for Concord (1998) from Spain; Ozaki(Gakudo) Award (1998) from Japan; Indira Gandhi Award (1998) from India; Sydney Peace Prize (1998) from Australia, Rotary Award for World Understanding (1999) from U.S.A., Golden Pegasus Award (1999) from Italy, Roma Award for Peace and Humanitarian Action (1999) from Italy, King Hussein Humanitarian Leadership Award (2000) from Jordan, International Cooperation Prize Caja de Granada (2001) from Spain, “NAVARRA” International Aid Award (2001) from Spain , Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (2001) from Japan, Mahatma Gandhi Award (2002) from U.S.A., Volvo Environment Prize (2003) from Sweden, Citta di Orvieto Award (2004) from Italy, Nikkei Asia Prize (2004) from Japan, The Economist Award for Social and Economic Innovation (2004) from U.S.A., Golden Cross of the Civil Order of the Social Solidarity (2005) from Spain, Freedom Award (2005) from U.S.A., Prize Il Ponte (2005) from Italy, Foundation of Justice (2005) award from Valencia, Spain, Neustadt Award (2006) from U.S.A, Global Citizen of the Year Award (2006) from U.S.A., Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom Award (2006) from Netherlands, ITU World Information Society Award (2006) from Switzerland, Seoul Peace Prize (2006) from Korea, Convivencia (Good Fellowship) of Ceuta Award (2006) from Spain, Nobel Peace Prize (2006) from Norway, Disaster Mitigation Award (2006) from India, SHERA BANGALEE Award (2006) from Kolkata, India, Global Trailblazer Award (2007) from USA, ABICC Award For Leadership in Global Trade (2007) from U.S.A., Social Entrepreneur Award (2007) from U.S.A., Global Entrepreneurship Leader Award (2007) from U.S.A., Red Cross Gold Medal (2007) from Spain, Rabindra Nath Tagore Birth Centenary Plaque (2007) from Kolkata, India, EFR-Business Week Award (2007) from Netherlands, Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal (2007) from U.S.A., Vision Award (2007) from Germany, BAFI Global Achievement Award (2007) from U.S.A.
Within Bangladesh, he received the President’s Award (1978); Central Bank Award (1985); and Independence Day Award (1987), the highest national award. He was the first chair of the Policy Advisory Group of CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest). He has been appointed as an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS by the United Nations. He has been inducted as a member of the Legion d’Honneur by President Chirac of France.
Professor Yunus has received honorary doctorate degrees from the following universities : University of East Anglia, U.K. (1992), Oberlin College, U.S.A. (1993), University of Toronto, Canada (1995), Haverford College, U.S.A. (1996), Warwick University, U.K.(1996), Saint Xaviers’ University, U.S.A. (1997), University of the South, U.S.A. (1998), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (1998), Yale University, U.S.A. (1998). Brigham Young University, U.S.A. (1998), University of Sydney, Australia (1998), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia (2000), University of Turin, Italy (2000), Colgate University, Hamilton, U.S.A. (2002), University Catholique of Louvain, Belgium (2003), Universitad Nacional De Cuyo, Argentina (2003), University of Natal, South Africa (2003), Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswayvidyalaya, India (2004), Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand (2004), University of Florence, Italy (2004), University of Bologna, Italy (2004), University of Complutense, Spain (2004), University of Venda, South Africa (2006), American University of Beirut, Lebanon (2006), University of Alicante, Spain (2006), University of Valencia, Spain (2006), University of Jaume I, Spain (2006).