Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Muhammad Yunus told an audience tonight
in Washington, D.C. that peace is inextricably connected with
poverty.
(I attended a dinner to honor Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate. Dr. Yunus spoke about the role of micro-lending enabling people to emerge from poverty.)

Peace is inextricably connected to poverty, according to Dr. Muhammad Yunus. “Where there is poverty sooner or later there will be frustration and possibly terrorism. Terrorism won’t be halted by force,” he told a crowd of supporters and guests of the United Nations Foundation.

“Peace will only come with justice and empowerment of people who feel they are left out of the society,” he said.

Dr. Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank a micro-lender to the poor, was named a Nobel Laureate by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on October 13, 2006.

Dr. Yunus said the Nobel Committee through the nomination made the connection between poverty and peace. His remarks, which can be found on the Grameen website, reveal the respect he holds for the poor with whom he works. He told the group, “Grameencredit is based on the premise that the poor have skills which remain unutilised or under-utilised. It is definitely not the lack of skills which make poor people poor. Grameen believes that the poverty is not created by the poor, it is created by the institutions and policies which surround them. In order to eliminate poverty all we need to do is to make appropriate changes in the institutions and policies, and/or create new ones. Grameen believes that charity is not an answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue. It creates dependency and takes away individual’s initiative to break through the wall of poverty. Unleashing of energy and creativity in each human being is the answer to poverty.”

Mild of speech and disposition, Dr. Yunus said “poverty is not a natural extension of human beings, it is an artificial condition imposed upon people. I would celebrate if only one person left begging to become an entrepreneur because those who leave the begging life see the value of education for their children and they become empowered.”
He said he would be joyful if only eight people moved from poverty to self-support. But, in fact, through the work of Grameen Bank “thousands have left begging and have become self-sufficient.”

When he started Grameen Bank, he said he had no idea how the first $27.00 loan would be repaid, nor how much good it would do. But he learned quickly that a small loan can lead to big payoff. At the start he had “no idea it would reach hundreds of thousands of people. But today we’re reaching 5 million,” he said.

He will receive his award on December 10 in Oslo for his work to empower poor people, especially women, by providing small loans.

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