Nobel Peace Prize recognizes credit bank for the poor
The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee awards this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh "for their efforts to generate economic and social development from below", which also supports democracy and human rights. Lasting peace is only possible if large sections of the population find a way out of poverty. The microloans offered by Yunus and the Grameen Bank offer the opportunity to do this.
Three decades ago, Yunus began to put his vision of giving credit to the poor without financial security into practice: a loan of a few dollars as a start-up aid enabled people who were considered unworthy of credit by "normal" banks to get started improve the standard of living of their families and repay the money within a short period of time. This idea of the Grameen Bank is now a model for many institutions far beyond Bangladesh, which are now using microcredit themselves in the fight against poverty. According to the committee, women in particular benefit from the concept in societies in which they have to fight against social and economic resistance. However, economic progress and political democracy are only possible if the female half of humanity can participate to the same extent as men.
Yunus' vision of eradicating poverty in the world cannot be achieved with microcredit alone, the committee explains. However, Yunus and the Gramenn Bank have shown that microcredits play a key role on the way to achieving this goal. The United Nations recently underlined the importance of such microcredits by declaring 2005 the "Year of Microcredits".
Similar to a cooperative, Grameen Bank, founded by Yunus in 1976, is 94 percent owned by the borrowers and 6 percent owned by the state of Bangladesh.97 percent of the now 6.61 million recipients are women. The loans are financed exclusively by the bank's own reserves, which, apart from a few exceptions, make a profit every year. The loan repayment rate is 99 percent. Funding is provided for projects for starting a business, building a house, attending schools and universities, and a special program for beggars, who should be able to create new sources of income.