Muhammad Yunus. The development of microcredit, which was largely the invention of Yunus’s Grameen Bank, is one of the most positive steps in helping the world’s poorest people become economically independent and self-sufficient. A creative and inspiring choice for the prize.
I got to know one of Yunus’s followers quite well in my Davos years. Iqbal Qadir created GrameenPhone with the support of Grameen Bank and with a similar philosophy. Here’s what happened within two years of founding GrameenPhone:
Although GrameenPhone aims to cover all of Bangladesh which contains 68,000 villages, 1,100 villages where phones have been already placed (by the end of 1999) confirm that the village phone concept is economically viable. Each of the village operators is making money at the rate of $700 per year, after covering all of her costs. This earning of more than twice the country’s annual per-capita income (quite meaningful for a family in rural Bangladesh) is proof that phones are being put to good use in these villages. Soon hundreds of villages will have the same facilities and eventually all 68,000 villages will.
And of course all of those villages also gained vital connectivity which helped many other businesses.