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Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006

Yunus: Poor best served by social role of business

Staff writer

The poorest of the poor are not looking for charity but for opportunities, just like people everywhere. And overcoming the injustice and humiliation they suffer is one of the keys to curbing problems such as terrorism, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus said Wednesday in Tokyo.

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The 66-year-old Bangladeshi economist is visiting Japan this week to take part in the annual board meeting of the United Nations Foundation in Tokyo.

Earlier this month, Yunus and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel prize together. The bank's microcredit lending, an approach developed by Yunus in the 1970s, has helped empower thousands of severely impoverished Bangladeshis, particularly women. Similar schemes have been launched in other parts of the world.

"Given a little chance, (the) poorest people, (the) poorest women, can pull themselves up and establish (a) dignified life for themselves," Yunus said at a press conference, adding he feels it is important that the bank, which is owned collectively by nearly 7 million Bangladeshi women, has been brought to the world's attention.

Yunus said he hopes to challenge people's conventional concept of business, expanding it to embrace social causes. Grameen Bank's microcredit loans, usually around $200, are not backed by collateral. Borrowers contribute small amounts of capital to a collective pot, which can then be borrowed by members to set up or expand small businesses to improve their lives.

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The Japan Times

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