Monday, October 16, 2006

The World--At Last--Meets Muhammad Yunus

By now, you have probably heard that Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, has won the Nobel Prize for Peace. This is wonderful news for many reasons.

Yunus's invention of "microcredit" has helped improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of rural families in Bangladesh and throughout the third world.

It has helped lift thousands of villages out of poverty, and has done so in a way that enhances their independence and dignity rather than dimiinishing them.

It has empowered women, who receive the vast majority of the loans administered by the Grameen Bank--no small thing in a Muslim country.

And it has accomplished all these things in a sustainable fashion, through an economic program that is self-supporting and even profitable, not reliant upon developed-world charity.

Best of all, the Nobel committee has wisely chosen to make this award not at the end of Professor Yunus's career but at a time when the money and, still more, the worldwide publicity associated with it can do a lot to help expand the work of Yunus and Grameen Bank.

In the last couple of months, when people have asked me about my upcoming writing projects, and I've mentioned that I hope to be working with Muhammad Yunus on a new book about the next phase of his economic development work, the vast majority of people have stared at me blankly and said, "Muhammad who?" Hopefully the Nobel Prize will make Professor's Yunus's name much more widely known and respected--as it obviously deserves to be.

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