is an economist and the founder of the Grameen Bank. He and his bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “efforts to create economic and social development from below”.
In clearer terms, this means that Yunus and the Grameen Bank have helped foster economic development in Bangladesh, their home, by stimulating economic activity in the lower economic classes. The means by which they’ve accomplished this is simple: small, low-interest loans with a 52-week repayment plan for poor would-be entrepreneurs. Yunus calls the philosophy of economic development “microcredit”.
The tactic has proven fairly effective: many people otherwise in economic straits too dire to get a loan from traditional banks are afforded an opportunity to do something for themselves, in the form of a business venture. The Grameen Bank, meanwhile, turns a tidy profit.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on December 10th of every year. Most of the time, we expect to hear of politicians and famous nuns from India (rest in peace, Mother Theresa) receiving the prize, but often enough it’s just someone with a novel approach to filling a need not only economically, but profitably.
This sort of thing ought to give geeks everywhere some hope of one day earning a Nobel Peace Prize. After all, if it proves anything, it proves that honest and friendly business ethics, with an innovative approach to making money, can move mountains. While Dr. Yunus had a bank through which to work, you don’t always need a lot of money behind you to change the world.
All it really takes is a good idea, an idea that helps someone without hurting anyone else.