The "father" of microcredit – Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus – is under attack.
Professor Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts who pioneered the use of "microloans" to provide credit to poor individuals without collateral. An economist by training, Prof. Yunus began his work to empower the poor, especially women, in his native Bangladesh in the late ‘70s. He founded Grameen Bank in 1983 to provide tiny loans to the poor, to help them create small businesses and break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.
Today, the Bank serves 8.3 million borrower-owners, almost all women, who together own more than 96% of the bank. The remaining amount is owned by the government of Bangladesh.
Recently, an unfair and unfounded smear campaign to discredit him and his work, fostered at the highest levels of the government of Bangladesh, has the global media in a frenzy and has caused deep concern among those who care about microfinance as a viable self-help tool for the very poor.
Prof. Yunus has never wavered from his poverty-fighting mission. For his decades of work on behalf of the poor, he received a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama and, in late 2010, a Congressional Gold Medal, becoming only the seventh person in history to receive all three distinctions.
This attack on Prof. Yunus is an attack on the humanitarian spirit that inspires each of us to want to improve the world and the lives of the poorest among us. Prof. Yunus is the victim of politically-motivated charges that are untrue and mean-spirited. We are concerned that the government of Bangladesh is trying to railroad Prof. Yunus out of his position with Grameen Bank to install someone they can manipulate.
By standing with Prof. Yunus, we are saying that the millions of poor families in Bangladesh who would never have received microloans without him and an independent Grameen Bank are more important than the whims of a government motivated by partisan politics.
We can make a difference by putting international pressure on the government of Bangladesh through their Ambassador to the U.S. – H.E. Akramul Qader. Please sign your name to this letter of support for Prof. Yunus, and we will deliver it to Ambassador Qader.
I believe the Bangladesh government is threatening his position as managing director of the Bank because of partisan politics, which is wrong. I join the international community – including American leaders and citizens – in speaking out on Prof. Yunus's behalf.
I stand with the millions of poor families in Bangladesh who would never have received microloans without Prof. Yunus and an independent Grameen Bank. I believe his work is more important than the whims of an administration driven by partisan politics.