In 1976, Professor Muhammad Yunus and a small group of colleagues began issuing small loans of about $27 to the poverty-stricken in his local village. Over time this group became involved in a series of ventures in other sectors Æ from fisheries to Internet service providers Æ establishing the Grameen Bank which reaches millions of the world’s poor. The bank issues microloans to poor borrowers Æ particularly women. It does so on the premise that credit is a human right, and necessary to encouraging individual agency in breaking the poverty cycle. To date, Grameen Bank has lent more than $4.5 billion to small-scale entrepreneurs, and its repayment rate far exceeds that of commercial banks. Yunus’s model is now being used to break the cycle of poverty in more than fifty countries.
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