Birthplace: Chittagong, Bangladesh
Born in 1940’s East Pakistan prior to the independence of Bangladesh, Yunus’ family was prosperous and he was able to attend preperatory school and college in his home country, earning a MA in economics. After an excursion into the printing business which he pawned off onto other members of his family, a Fulbright Scholarship and 98th percentile score on the Graduate Record Exam permitted Yunus to attend Vanderbilt University where he earned a doctorate in Economics. He taught in Colorado and now teaches in Bangladesh.
Towards the end of his seven year stay in America, Yunus supported the Bangladeshi freedom movement after West Pakistani forces occupied the capital, Dhaka. Upon returning to Bangladesh and observing the poverty of rural citizens and their dealings with extortionist moneylenders, Yunus came upon the idea of microlending. His discovery was that a tiny bit of money had a great impact if it were lent to the women of Bangladeshi families. After hesitation from banks, a state bank was chartered for this purpose and three million families have received loans. Of these, 46% or so have since escaped poverty (in Bangladeshi terms.)
Yunus’ methods have been applied to Burma and in Kosovo, with success. He now is embarking upon an effort to “elminate poverty entirely” in Bangladesh, and by extension via the U.N. to other places, by using these and similar techniques.