1. Citizenship Stage 2
Muhammad Yunus tackles poverty
Tham Hao Bin
Puar You Tian
Chong Wai Sheng
2. Topic: Poverty
Social entrepreneur: Muhammad Yunus
The third children of nine, Muhammad Yunus was born on 28 June 1940 to a Muslim family in a village. He is a
Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker and economist who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for founding the
grameen bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.
For many years, Yunus remained a follower of the founding father of Bangladesh. While teaching at Middle Tennessee State University,
Yunus founded the Bangladesh Citizen's Committee(BBC), as a response to West Pakistan's aggression against Bangladesh and its
leader. After the outbreak of the war of liberation, the BCC selected Yunus to become editor of its newly published Bangladesh News
Letter. Inspired by the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, Yunus returned home in 1972, to help Mujib rebuild the nation shattered by a long
and bloody war.
3. Aspirations & goals
Muhammad Yunus aimed to allow the poor to emerge from poverty.
According to Yunus, poverty means being deprived of all human value.
Poverty includes having housing, welfare, water and healthcare problems. He
also wanted to fix capitalism.
4. How did Muhammad Yunus achieve his
In 1976, during visits to the poorest households in the village of Jobra, Yunus
discovered that very small loans could make a difference to a person. Village
women who made bamboo furniture had to take loans to buy bamboo, and
repay their profits to the lenders. Traditional banks did not want to make tiny
loans at reasonable interest to the poor due to high risk of default. But Yunus
believed that, given the chance, the poor will repay the money and hence
microcredit was a viable business model. Yunus lent US$27 of his money to 42
women in the village, who made a profit of BDT 0.50 (US$0.02) each on the
loan. Thus, Yunus pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.
5. Yunus’ contributions to society
Yunus created Grameen Bank. In the late 1980s, Grameen started to diversify by attending to underutilized fishing ponds and irrigation
pumps like deep tube wells. In time, the Grameen initiative grew into a multi-faceted group of profitable and non-profit ventures. From
its start in March 1997 to 2007, GP's Village Phone (Polli Phone) project had brought cell-phone ownership to 260,000 rural poor in
over 50,000 villages.
In 1974 we ended up with a famine in the country. People were dying of hunger and not having enough to eat. And that's a terrible situation to see
around you. And I was feeling terrible that here I teach elegant theories of economics, and those theories are of no use at the moment with the
people who are going hungry. So I wanted to see if as a person, as a human being, I could be of some use to some people.
- Dr. Muhammad Yunus while talking about reason behind creating Grameen Bank
The success of the Grameen microfinance model inspired similar efforts in about 100 developing countries and even in developed
countries including the United States. Many microcredit projects retain Grameen's emphasis of lending to women. More than 94% of
Grameen loans have gone to women, who suffer from poverty and who are more likely than men to devote their earnings to their
6. Challenges/Trials he faced
The Bangladeshi government launched aninvestigation of all Grameen Bank's activities.
Claim of embezzlement:
The Government announced a review of Grameen Bank activities on 11 January 2011. In February, several international
leaders, stepped up their defence of Yunus through a number of efforts.
On 15 February 2011, the Finance Minister of Bangladesh, declared that Yunus should “stay away” from Grameen Bank
while it is being investigated. On 2 March 2011, a former Bank employee whom the government had appointed Chairman
announced that Yunus had been fired as Managing Director of the Bank. However, Bank General Manager Jannat-E
Quanine issued a statement that Yunus was "continuing in his office" pending review of the legal issues surrounding the
7. How he overcame these challenges
Overcoming the controversy:
In March 2011, Yunus petitioned the Bangladesh High Court challenging the legality of the decision by the Bangladeshi
Central Bank to remove him as Managing Director of Grameen Bank. The same day, nine elected directors of Grameen
Bank filed a second petition. U.S. Senator John Kerry expressed his support to Yunus in a statement on 5 March 2011 and
declared that he was "deeply concerned" by this affair. The same day in Bangladesh, thousands of people protested and
formed human chains to support Yunus. The High Court hearing on the petitions, was planned for 6 March 2011 but
postponed. On 8 March 2011, the Court confirmed Yunus's dismissal.
8. Overcoming the allegations
The allegations quickly spread through the Bangladesh media. Leading Bangladeshi economist Rehman Sobhan stated
"Rather than first seeking clarification and response from Grameen Bank as to the validity of the TV program, some sections
of the media and society pounced on it with unseemly enthusiasm, using it as an opportunity to cite wrongdoing in a widely
respected organization." Yunus asked for consistent and transparent investigations on these matters.
9. Group reflections
While working on this project, we learnt a lot more about Muhammad Yunus together and his contribution
to society, including how he has helped many people. We also learnt more about entrepreneurs in general
and their line of work. We have also learnt how we can contribute to society as citizens.
10. Overall conclusion
As an entrepreneur, Muhammad Yunus has overcome a lot of challenges to achieve his goal. All while
following his values and aspirations to help others, his pioneering of microfinance and microcredit has
helped reshape many parts of the business industry. Businesses all over the globe has adapted his concepts
to assist the needy in their countries. Muhammad Yunus always had one clear goal in his mind while
contributing back to society. The Grameen bank he built has helped many women in poverty. Muhammad
Yunus is truly an inspiring role model.