Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has called for enabling economic self-sufficiency to disadvantaged sections of the society by giving them access to small credit facilities. Speaking at a workshop on ‘Micro-finance’, the third in a series organised as part of Nobel Museum’s travelling exhibition currently being hosted in Dubai by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), Yunus described micro-credit system as a cost effective and easily accessible tool to fight poverty.
Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983 on the micro-finance concept, which eventually won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He said the basic idea behind Grameen Bank was to remove the need for collateral and create a banking system based on accountability, mutual trust, creativity and participation.
“When we started microcredit, we faced challenges as people doubted if it was possible to lend money without collateral. We have demonstrated that it is possible to make funds accessible to the poor without collateral and transform their lives by enabling them to gain self-sufficiency,” he said.
Yunus, who was a professor of economics in Bangladesh, said he designed microcredit with the only intention to help people come out of poverty. He said the Grameen Bank concept has not changed over the years, and it continues to reach out to the poorest, and has demonstrated that despite disasters it can work.
The Nobel laureate said in Bangladesh today Grameen has 2,564 branches, with 19,800 staff serving 8.29 million borrowers in 81,367 villages. On any working day Grameen collects an average of $1.5 million in weekly installments. Of the borrowers, 97 per cent are women and over 97 per cent of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system. Grameen methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada, France, The Netherlands and Norway.
The Nobel Museum exhibition at the Burj Khalifa annex in Downtown Dubai is open to visitors daily until April 30th from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm except on Fridays. MBRF is organising the exhibition in Dubai under the theme, ‘The Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing the World’. This is the first time the exhibition is being hosted in a new concept and theme in an Arabic city.