In 2006 the Nobel Foundation handed the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded. Yunus’ mission is to eradicate poverty from the planet. He firmly believes that every human being has the potential and right to lead a decent life, not matter what their background or personal means.
Based in Bangladesh, his Grameen Bank loans money to the sort of people that no other bank would touch – poor farmers and those in rural communities with no collateral whatsoever. As of 2007 they had 7 million borrowers, 97% of whom were women. They lend small amounts of money at very affordable rates to help people buy the tools to farm their land, pay rents or start their own businesses.
Despite the severe financial hardships of their borrowers, and the absence of any collateral, Grameen Bank has a much lower default rate than any traditional bank in the western world. It is a system based on trust and a desire to help out our fellow woman and man, and it works.
No wonder he is smiling.