After receiving his PhD in Economics from Vanderbilt University in the United States, Muhammad Yunus returned to his home country of Bangladesh in 1972.
There he founded the Grameen Bank Project in 1976, and transformed it into a formal bank in 1983.
Through the Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus has given practical expression to his belief that the world’s poorest people can transform the conditions of their own lives if given appropriate financial support. From this belief came the idea of ‘micro-credit’ - bank loans offered to the poor without asking them for guarantees or security in return.
As Muhammad Yunus describes it: ‘The repayments are designed in such a way that they are tiny instalments. You can pay back your loan over a long period. All of this together is micro-credit. Small loans for income-generating activity, addressed to the poorest, without collateral. For more than 30 years Muhammad Yunus has worked tirelessly to gain loan opportunities for the world’s rural poor, especially poor women. Grameen Bank currently operates 2,381 branches, offering credit to 7 million poor people from 75,950 villages in Bangladesh.
In 2006 Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to create economic and social development from the ground up. This award not only inspired the people of Bangladesh towards greater achievements, but also gave worldwide recognition to the nation as a whole. Muhammad Yunus has proved himself to be a leader by transforming his vision into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but in many other countries too.
Chosen by Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia as one of The 25 Most Influential Business Persons of the Past 25 Years, covered in a PBS documentary.
In 2006, Time magazine ranked him as one of the top 12 business leaders, including him among "60 years of Asian Heroes."
In 2008, Yunus was voted 2nd on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals in an open online poll conducted by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (United States).
In 2009, Yunus was awarded the Golden Biatec Award, the highest award bestowed by Slovakia’s Informal Economic Forum Economic Club, for individuals who exhibit economic, social, scientific, educational and cultural accomplishments in the Slovak Republic.
Yunus was named by Fortune Magazine in March 2012 as one of 12 greatest entrepreneurs of the current era.
Professor Muhammad Yunus is the recipient of 61 honorary degrees from universities across 24 countries. He has received 136 awards from 33 countries including state honours from 10 countries. He is one of only seven individuals to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom and the United States Congressional Gold Medal. He was awarded the Independence Day Award in 1987, by the President of Bangladesh for the outstanding contribution in rural development. This is the highest civilian national award of Bangladesh.
Professor Yunus has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, Hardtalk on BBC and The Simpsons. Financial Times chose Professor Muhammed Yunus as one of six Finance Pioneers. In the March 31, 2015 issue in an article entitled "Business Pioneers in Finance" Professor Yunus has been placed alongside Warren Buffett, Amadeo Giannini, Henry Kravis, J.P Morgan, and Mayer Amschel Rothschild as greatest business finance pioneers of all time. He has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, Newsweek and Forbes Magazine.