The CREO Institute team supports and celebrates the development of highly creative ideas that help to solve social, economic, cultural, and environmental issues. An excellent example of a highly innovative idea that has changed the lives of countless people in developing countries is that of microcredit. Mohammed Yunus, a banker and economist from Bangladesh and professor of economics, developed the concept of microcredit. In 2006, Mohammed Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create economic and social development from below.
Mohammed Yunus began by lending a small sum to help a struggling furniture maker and then went on to found Grameen Bank, an institution that has made business loans to people with no other access to the financial system. The bank has distributed more than 4 billion USD in small loans to millions and has grown to employ more than 11,000 people in more than 40,000 villages. Grameen Bank also has inspired thousands of imitators around the world and pioneered a practice commonly known as microlending and also called microcredit or microfinance.
Microlending involves giving loans to entrepreneurs who are too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. It essentially consists of the disbursement of small loans to people locked out of the banking system, the idea being to help them to start or expand small businesses that generate income -- for example, a one-cow dairy. Some loans are as small as 2 USD but typically they range from 50 to 1,000 USD and are made without conventional credit checks or collateral requirements.
The great majority of microlending's beneficiaries include people working in the informal, or underground, economy, and residents of remote rural areas. Many lenders have targeted women, traditionally discouraged from engaging in commercial ventures. Grameen Bank, for example, reports that 95 percent of its 3.12 million borrowers are women.
(from: http://www.globalenvision.org/library/4/1073/ - Click on link for additional information)
For the most part, microlending has proved that a small loan can become the start of a virtuous economic cycle, the benefits of which extend beyond individual borrowers because their businesses generate jobs and help improve living standards in their communities. Grameen's founder has seized on microlending's success to argue that credit should be at the top of the chain of other universally recognized human rights such as the right to food, the right to work, and the right to shelter. Once access to credit is established, Yunus has said, the individual recipients of a loan have the means to make the other rights possible through their own efforts.
Read more about Mohammed Yunnis at: http://www.muhammadyunus.org/