ITU World Information Society Award - 2006
Professor Muhammad Yunus
Grameen Bank, Bangladesh
For his outstanding personal contribution towards
building an inclusive and equitable global Information Society.
Professor Muhammad Yunus’ innovative approach to poverty
alleviation in Bangladesh has inspired the global microcredit movement reaching
out to millions of poor women.
A noted economist, Professor Muhammad Yunus started the Grameen Bank Project in
1976. Today, Grameen Bank provides collateral-free loans to 5 million clients in
Bangladesh, of which 96% are women. Over the last two decades, Grameen Bank has
loaned over 5 billion dollars to the poorest of the poor, while maintaining a
repayment rate consistently above 98%.
Besides Grameen Bank Prof. Yunus has created a number of companies in Bangladesh
to address diverse issues of poverty and development. Among the companies are
Grameen Phone (a mobile telephone company), Grameen Cybernet (Internet Service
Provider, Grameen Communications (Rural Internet Service Provider), Grameen
Software company, and Grameen Information Technology Park.
The Grameen Phone (Village Phone) programme, through which women entrepreneurs
can start a business providing wireless payphone service in rural areas of
Bangladesh has become a legendary success. In doing so, Grameen created a new
class of women entrepreneurs who have raised themselves from poverty. Moreover,
it improved the livelihoods of farmers and others who were provided access to
critical market information and lifeline communications previously unattainable
in some 28,000 villages of Bangladesh. More than 55,000 phones are currently in
operation, with more than 80 million people benefiting from access to ICTs.