Muhammad Yunus and his magic microloans

October 16th, 2006 by Zach Rodgers

There’s no good reason business credit should extend only to people with hundreds or thousands of customers and a high overhead. Street vendors. Juice makers. Goat herders. All over the world, people like this struggle to come up with $30 or $50 to get the equipment they need to embark on the entrepreneurial ventures they have in mind.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist (Wikipedia entry), was the first to offer microloans to his nation’s impoverished entrepreneurs – most of them women – through his Grameen Bank in the mid-1970s. “Here’s $50. Pay it back and you can borrow more,” has been his simple offer to very poor lendees. Now, 30 years later, Yunus has been honored with a Nobel Prize for helping people lift themselves out of poverty by loaning them a few bucks at a time.