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Microcredit Pioneers Win Nobel Peace Prize

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Microcredit Pioneers Win Nobel Peace Prize


Microcredit Pioneers Win Nobel Peace Prize

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Today's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize battles poverty in the developing world. His name is Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, and he described his philosophy this way when speaking to young people this year.

Mr. MUHAMMAD YUNUS (2006 Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize): Every morning when you get up, you repeat that I shall never ask for a job from anybody; I will create jobs. So some students ask me, how do we do that? We don't know. I said, if you don't know how to do that, ask your mother.

INSKEEP: Muhammad Yunus shares the Nobel Peace Prize with the team of the Grameen Bank. They provide what's called microcredit. That's a term for extremely small loans that go to people who otherwise could not qualify for bank loans.

Nearly all the borrowers are women, and they've used loans of $50 or $100 to start small businesses. A woman in a remote town might buy a cell phone and sell phone calls to her neighbors.

Now back in 2000, NPR's Michael Sullivan described how those phones went on to change life in a poor village called Atalia. It's in Bangladesh, where Michael also met the future Nobel Prize winner.

(Soundbite of previous NPR broadcast)

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: Muhammad Yunus, the director of the Grameen Bank and founder of its microcredit program, sits in his office and smiles.

Mr. YUNUS: A lot of people in the country say this is a crazy idea. It will never work because women, they are illiterate, they don't have any idea about telephones. She never saw a telephone. We said, well, there's always a first time and we went ahead.

SULLIVAN: Three years after the program started with just a few dozen phones, there are now telephone women in more than 1200 villages in Bangladesh. And Muhammad Yunus becomes animated when he speaks of the opportunity the phone represents for women like Abeta(ph), who, he says, never knew a world existed outside the village.

Mr. YUNUS: Now her world all of a sudden is the real world. She receives telephone calls from strange countries she never heard of. It could be Malaysia or Saudi Arabia or the United States or wherever. And it opens up your capacity to think and imagine.

SULLIVAN: Back in Atalia, Abeta Sultana(ph) is imagining plenty.

Ms. ABETA SULTANA (Resident, Atalia, Bangladesh): (Through translator) I have a piece of land in the local market and I'm planning a shop there. And see that road out in front of the house? I'd also like to build some shops there too. I want to expand my business.

SULLIVAN: So does Grameen Bank director Muhammad Yunus.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Michael Sullivan reporting on Muhammad Yunus, who, along with his bank, won the Nobel Peace Prize today. The Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway praised their efforts to create economic and social development from below.

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