Social entrepreneur, economist, and pioneer of microcredit.
Ranked #6 in 2009.
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006.
Served on the board of directors at the UN Foundation,1998 to 2021.
For Yunus, poverty means being deprived of all human value. So he became the banker to the poor. Fuelled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right, Yunus set up Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, which provided loans on suitable terms – microcredit – to help people out of poverty. A ground-breaking fusion of capitalism and social responsibility, Grameen Bank has since advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through microlending. Replicas of the Grameen Bank model operate in more than 100 countries worldwide. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his “efforts to create economic and social development from below.”
Born in 1940 in the port city of Chittagong, Yunus studied at Dhaka University and received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University, where he received his PhD in 1969. The following year he became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. Returning to Bangladesh, Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University. From 1993 to 1995, Yunus was a member of the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women, a post to which he was appointed by the UN secretary general. He has served on the Global Commission of Women’s Health, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance.
Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the battle against poverty (Ingram, 1998); Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (Public Affairs, 1998); Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs (Public Affairs, 2008); A World of Three Zeroes: the new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero carbon emissions (Public Affairs, 2017).
“Practical visionary; the global impact of his model of ‘social business’ cannot be overstated.”
Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50