I am Professor Muhammad Yunus. I was born on June 28, 1940. I am the founder Grameen Bank, a bank which pioneered microcredit – a method of banking where small loans are given to the poor, mostly to women, without collateral, for income generating activities, with high repayment rate, to help them get out of poverty. I am also the Chairman of Yunus Centre, which serves as a global hub for social business and it is also my international public affairs office.
I was born in the village of Bathua, in the district of Chittagong. I am the third oldest of nine children. My father was Haji Muhammad Dula Mia Shawdagar. He was a jeweler. My mother was Sufia Khatun. In 1944, my family moved to the city of Chittagong and there I studied at Lamabazar Primary School. Later, I completed my matriculation examination from Chittagong Collegiate School.
I enrolled into the Department of Economics at University of Dhaka in 1957, and I got my BA in Economics in 1960 and my MA in 1961.
Upon completing my studies at Dhaka University, I joined the Bureau of Economics at Dhaka University. I was appointed as a lecturer in Economics at Chittagong College in 1961. In 1965, I was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study Economics at Vanderbilt University in the United States and I obtained my Ph.D in Economics in 1969. I taught Economics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN from 1969 to 1972.
In 1971, Bangladesh won its independence after a brutal Liberation War. I was in the United States at that time. There, I founded a Citizen's Committee in Nashville, TN, and published a newsletter named, Bangladesh Newsletter. I also ran the Bangladesh Information Center in Washington D.C., with other Bangladeshis living in the United States, to raise support for liberation of Bangladesh and to lobby the U.S. Congress to stop military aid to Pakistan.
In 1972, I returned to Bangladesh. After a brief time at the Planning Commission, I joined the Department of Economics at Chittagong University as its Chairman. Bangladesh at that time was an extremely poor country. The turning point in my life came in 1974, while Bangladesh was under a severe famine. I found that I was unable to continue to teach elegant economic theories to my students while my people starved outside the windows of my classrooms.
I left the classroom and went to the neighboring village called Jobra. What I found in that village shocked and horrified me. I learned that the villagers had become economic slaves to ruthless money lenders. I made a list of the people in the village who had taken loans and the amount of loans. At the end of the day, my list contained 42 names and $27 of loans. I decided to lend the $27 to the people from my own pocket so that they could free themselves from the grasp of the money lenders. This created a lot of commotion in the village. The villagers were very happy to be free of the money lenders. I felt good that I had done something to change the lives of these people. I thought, "If with so little, I can make these people so happy, why should I not keep doing it?" And that is what I did. I approached the traditional banks and urged them to lend to the villagers, but they told me that the poor are not credit-worthy; they do not have any collateral. I said, no, the poor are just as credit-worthy and offered myself as a guarantor for the villagers. Only then did the bank agree to lend to the villagers.
I started the Grameen Bank Project in 1976 and after much struggle and effort in October 2nd, of 1983, the project was transformed into a full-fledged bank, called Grameen Bank (Village Bank) and this bank lends only to poor, rural citizens of Bangladesh.
As of May 2011, Grameen Bank (GB) has 8.4 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. With 2,556 branches, GB provides services in 84,237 villages, covering all of the villages in Bangladesh. It has lent over USD 10 billion to the poor people with nearly 100 percent repayment rate, since its inception.
In October 2006, I was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank for the efforts to create economic and social development.
I am married to Dr. Afrozi Yunus, and have two daughters, Monica and Deena.