Early life and education
Muhammad Yunus at Chittagong Collegiate School, while visiting the school in 2003.
The third of nine children, Yunus was born on 28 June 1940 to a Muslim family in the village of Bathua, by the Boxirhat Road in Hathazari, Chittagong, in the British Raj (modern Bangladesh). His father was Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar, a jeweler, and his mother was Sufia Khatun. His early childhood years were spent in the village. In 1944, his family moved to the city of Chittagong, and he was shifted to Lamabazar Primary School from his village school. By 1949, his mother was afflicted with psychological illness. Later, he passed the ...view middle of the document...
During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Yunus founded a citizen's committee and ran the Bangladesh Information Center, with other Bangladeshis living in the United States, to raise support for liberation. He also published the Bangladesh Newsletter from his home in Nashville. After the War, Yunus returned to Bangladesh and was appointed to the government's Planning Commission headed by Nurul Islam. He found the job boring and resigned to join Chittagong University as head of the Economics department. He became involved with poverty reduction after observing the famine of 1974, and established a rural economic program as a research project. In 1975, he developed a Nabajug (New Era) Tebhaga Khamar (three share farm) which the government adopted as the Packaged Input Programme. In order to make the project more effective, Yunus and his associates proposed the Gram Sarkar (the village government) programme. Introduced by then president Ziaur Rahman in late 1970s, the Government formed 40,392 village governments (gram sarkar) as a fourth layer of government in 2003. On 2 August 2005, in response to a petition filed by Bangladesh Legal Aids and Services Trust (BLAST) the High Court had declared Gram Sarkar illegal and unconstitutional.
Main article: Grameen Bank
Further information: Grameen family of organizations
Grameen Bank Head Office at Mirpur-2, Dhaka
In 1976, during visits to the poorest households in the village of Jobra near Chittagong University, Yunus discovered that very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person. Jobra women who made bamboo furniture had to take out usurious loans for buying bamboo, to pay their profits to the moneylenders. His first loan, consisting of US$27.00 from his own pocket, was made to 42 women in the village, who made a net profit of BDT 0.50 (US$0.02) each on the loan. Accumulated through many loans, this vastly improving Bangladesh's ability to export and import as it did in the past, resulting in a greater form of globalization and economic status.
Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan, founder of the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (now Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development), is credited alongside Yunus for pioneering the idea. From his experience at Jobra, Yunus, an admirer of Dr. Hameed, realized that the creation of an institution was needed to lend to those who had nothing. While traditional banks were not interested in making tiny loans at reasonable interest rates to the poor due to high repayment risks, Yunus believed that given the chance the poor will repay the borrowed money and hence microcredit could be a viable business model.
Yunus finally succeeded in securing a loan from the government Janata Bank to lend it to the poor in Jobra in December 1976. The institution continued to operate by securing loans from other banks for its projects. By 1982, the bank had 28,000...