Muhammad Yunus Biography

(Bangladeshi Econimist Who Won Nobel Peace Prize for Founding the 'Grameen Bank' & Pioneering the Concepts of Microfinance)

Birthday: June 28, 1940 (Cancer)

Born In: Chittagong

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and banker who established the Grameen bank in his country in 1983. The Grameen bank and Yunus were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below." As a professor of Economics, he studied the prevailing principles of finance and credit in his country which prevented the poor entrepreneurs from qualifying for bank loans, thus robbing them of the chance to overcome their poverty. He started out by giving personal loans of very small or “micro” amounts to destitute basket weavers so that they could support themselves. The establishment of the Grameen Bank in 1983 was the manifestation of his desire to help poor people. As on today, several other banks modeled on the Grameen Bank business model operate in over 100 countries. Yunus had always been interested in social issues. Even while he was in the U.S, he took an active interest in the welfare of his home country and ran the Bangladesh Information Center to raise support for liberation during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. He became interested in poverty reduction methods after a famine struck Bangladesh in 1974. He is a member of the board of the United Nations Foundation and has won numerous awards for his endeavors.

Quick Facts

Age: 83 Years, 83 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Vera Forostenko (m. 1970–1979)

father: Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar

mother: Sufia Khatun

siblings: Muhammad Ibrahim Yunus, Muhammad Jahangir Yunus

children: Deena Afroz Yunus, Monica Yunus

Born Country: Bangladesh

Quotes By Muhammad Yunus Humanitarian

Founder/Co-Founder: Grameen Bank

More Facts

education: Vanderbilt University, Chittagong University, University of Dhaka, Chittagong College

awards: 1978 - President's Award
1984 - Ramon Magsaysay Award
1985 - Bangladesh Bank Award

1987 - Shwadhinota Dibosh Puroshkar
1989 - Aga Khan Award for Architecture
1993 - CARE Humanitarian Award
1994 - World Food Prize
1995 - Max Schmidheiny Freedom Prize
1996 - UNESCO Simón Bolívar Prize
1998 - Indira Gandhi Prize
1998 - Prince of Asturias Award
1998 - Sydney Peace Prize
2001 - Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize
2004 - The Volvo Environment Prize
2004 - The Economist the newspaper's Prize for social and economic innovation
2006 - Mother Teresa Award instituted
2006 - Millennium Award
2006 - Freedom from Want Award
2006 - ITU World Information Society Award
2006 - Seoul Peace Prize
2006 - Nobel Peace Prize
2007 - The Nichols-Chancellor's Medal awarded by Vanderbilt University[20]
2007 - Order of the Liberator in First Class
2008 - Corine Award
2009 - The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Leadership and Service
2009 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
2010 - President's Medal
2010 - Congressional Gold Medal

Childhood & Early Life
Muhammad Yunus was born in Chittagong as the third of 14 children. His father, Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar was a successful goldsmith and his mother Sufia Khatun was a kind lady who always helped the poor. Five of his siblings died in infancy.
As a child he attended the village school, later shifting to Lamabazar Primary School, Chittagong. He passed his matriculation examination from Chittagong Collegiate School.
He attended Chittagong College where he actively participated in cultural activities. He later joined Dhaka University from where he completed his B.A and M.A.
After receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the U.S, he enrolled in Vanderbilt University and obtained his PhD in economics in 1971.
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While pursuing his PhD in the U.S, he worked as Assistant Professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee from 1969 to 1972. Upon his return to Bangladesh, he was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the General Economics Division in the Government’s Planning Commission in July 1972. However, he found the job boring and resigned within few months in September, the same year.
He joined the Chittagong University as Associate Professor of Economics, and later became Head of the Department of Economics. In 1975, he was made Director of the Rural Economics Programme, a role he held till 1989.
While working at the Chittagong University, he also started his work on establishing the Grameen Bank. In 1976, he personally started lending tiny amounts to the poor, and in 1983 what had begun as a pilot project started operating as a full-fledged bank, the Grameen bank with Yunus as the Managing Director.
He has also authored several books including ‘Banker to the Poor’ and ‘Creating a World without Poverty.’
Major Works
The idea for Grameen Bank originated in Yunus’s mind while conducting a research programme in the 1970’s for designing a banking system that would help the poor in overcoming their poverty.
Initially he started by personally lending small amounts of money to the poor in Jobra village 1976. Then he sought support from the Central Bangladesh Bank to extend micro-credit facilities to other places as well. The project was immensely successful.
In 1983, the Grameen Bank was officially incorporated by a Bangladeshi government ordinance. The bank also received help in form of a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Yunus’s purpose of setting up the bank was to make available small loans to the poor at reasonable rates in order to encourage self-employment opportunities that would help the poor in utilizing their skills and making economic gains. It has been estimated that 97% of the borrowers from Grameen Bank are women.
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Over the years, the Grameen Bank has grown to encompass over two dozen enterprises, all dedicated to the betterment of society. These include: Grameen Trust, Grameen Fund, Grameen Telecom, Grameen Shakti, etc.
Awards & Achievements
Yunus won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1984 in the field of ‘Community Leadership’ for "Enabling the neediest rural men and women to make themselves productive with sound group managed credit."
The Independence Day Award, the highest civilian national award of Bangladesh was bestowed upon him in 1987 for the outstanding contribution he had made to rural development.
He received the 1993 Humanitarian Award by CARE, U.S, for his role in providing a “uniquely pragmatic and effective method of empowering poor women and men to embark on income generating activities.”
He was awarded World Food Prize in 1994 by World Food Prize Foundation, U.S.A for “his original approach to promoting the economic and social empowerment of the poorest citizens of Bangladesh, specifically women and children.”
Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below."
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Vera Forostenko, a student of Russian literature, in 1970. They had one daughter and divorced soon after her birth.
Currently, he is married to Afrozi Yunus, a physics professor. He has one daughter from his second marriage.
He was made to step down as the chairman of the Grameen bank by the Bangladesh government in 2011 due to his advancing age.
He is the first Bangladeshi to have won the Nobel Prize.
He has won more than 100 international awards from 26 countries.
In Houston, Texas, 14 January has been declared as “Muhammad Yunus Day” in his honour.

See the events in life of Muhammad Yunus in Chronological Order

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