Muhammad Yunus: The Founding of Grameen Bank | Summary and Q&A

June 1, 2012
Harvard Innovation Labs
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Muhammad Yunus: The Founding of Grameen Bank


Professor Yunus discusses his journey of providing microcredit to the poor and the establishment of the microfinance institution, Grameen Bank.

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Key Insights

  • 🪡 Muhammad Yunus perceived extreme poverty as an opportunity to make a difference by providing credit to those in need.
  • 🥺 The initial act of lending $27 to poor borrowers created a tremendous impact and led to the establishment of Grameen Bank.
  • 💨 Loan-sharking in villages served as inspiration for Professor Yunus to explore ways to break the cycle of ruthless lending practices.
  • 🏑 Grameen Bank became a pioneer in the field of microfinance, enabling poor individuals to access credit and uplift their socio-economic status.
  • 🤳 The ideology behind Grameen Bank is rooted in the belief that everyone has the potential to become financially self-reliant.
  • ❓ Professor Yunus' perseverance and determination were instrumental in overcoming skeptics and establishing the microcredit movement.
  • 👍 The success of Grameen Bank challenged traditional banking practices and proved that lending to the poor can be both sustainable and transformative.


my name is Bill Solomon and I'm the senior associate dean for external relations but today it's my great honor to introduce professor Muhammad Yunus the man who has done more to democratize access to credit around the world than any other person what I most enjoyed learning today is that he has this knack for viewing every problem in the world as a... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the motivation behind Professor Yunus lending money to poor women?

Professor Yunus felt compelled to be useful to others in desperate circumstances and recognized the inability of his economic theories to have any positive impact on people experiencing extreme poverty.

Q: What inspired Professor Yunus to solve the problem of loan-sharking in villages?

He was shocked by the suffering people endured for borrowing such small amounts of money and realized that he could personally alleviate this problem by lending $27 to those on a list he created.

Q: How did Professor Yunus increase his efforts to help more people?

Profoundly moved by the impact of his initial intervention, he decided to continue helping more people by proposing that they go to the bank instead of loan sharks, leading to the establishment of Grameen Bank.

Q: What challenges did Professor Yunus face when trying to convince the bank to lend money to the poor?

The bank initially believed it was impossible to lend money to the poor. It took eight months of struggle and persistence for Professor Yunus to persuade them, ultimately offering himself as a guarantor to mitigate their concerns.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Professor Yunus explains that his initial motive to lend money to poor women stemmed from the extreme circumstances in his country and his desire to be useful to others.

  • He discusses his realization of the ruthless loan-sharking system in villages and his determination to solve this problem by personally lending $27 to borrowers to free them from the loan sharks.

  • Inspired by the positive impact of this small amount of money, he eventually proposes the idea of a bank lending money to the poor, leading to the establishment of Grameen Bank.

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