Muhammad Yunus is the chairman of the Yunus Centre and the founder of Grameen Bank, currently operating 1,781 branches and providing credit to 5.6 million poor people residing in 60,815 villages in Bangladesh. He originated the concept of Grameen Bank—banking without collateral—for the poorest of the poor. In 2006, Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yunus studied economics at Vanderbilt University and received his PhD in economics in 1970. He taught economics at Middle Tennessee University from 1969 to 1972. Returning to Bangladesh in 1972, he joined the University of Chittagong as head of the economics department. He started the Grameen Bank Project in 1976, transforming it into a formal bank in 1983. The Grameen Bank offers small loans for self employment for the rural poor, especially poor women.
For his constant innovation and enterprise, Fortune magazine named Professor Yunus in March 2012 one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time. In 2010, The New Statesman listed him as one of the world’s 50 most influential figures and in 2006, Time magazine listed him in "60 years of Asian Heroes" as one of the top 12 business leaders.Professor Yunus is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees from universities across 20 countries. He has received 112 awards from 26 countries, including state honors from ten countries.
He is one of seven individuals to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the United States Congressional Gold Medal. Other notable awards include the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the World Food Prize, the International Simon Bolivar Prize, the Sydney Peace Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, and the Seoul Peace Prize.
Within Bangladesh, he has received the President's Award, the Central Bank Award, and the Independence Day Award—the highest national award. He was the first chair of the Policy Advisory Group of CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest), was appointed as an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS by the UN, and was inducted as a member of the Légion d'Honneur by President Chirac of France.
Professor Yunus has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, Hardtalk, and The Simpsons. He has appeared on the cover of Time magazine and Newsweek.
Muhammad Yunus has received honorary doctorate degrees from many universities all over the world and serves on the boards of many national and international organizations. Besides Grameen Bank, he has created a number of companies in Bangladesh to address diverse issues of poverty and development.