He isn't a head of state nor is he one of the world's wealthiest people, but Dr. Muhammad Yunus found a way to help more than 100 million people around the globe step out of poverty. For his efforts, Dr. Yunus has been awarded a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Yunus was born the third of 14 children in Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations on earth. He excelled in school and was eventually awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Vanderbilt University to earn his Ph.D.
Upon returning to Bangladesh to teach, the country was in famine. "I was teaching…and feeling helpless. I teach beautiful theories of economics, and people are going hungry," Dr. Yunus says. "I said, 'Forget about those theories. I'm a human being, I can go and touch another person's life."
He decided to do "a lot of little things" and discovered something revolutionary in the process. By loaning—not giving—money to those in need, he found the cycle of poverty could be broken.
He lent a mere $27 to a group of bamboo weavers in a local village. "I gave the money from my pocket and they were very excited about it," Dr. Yunus says. "I thought maybe I should try to continue this." Grateful for the money, those borrowers paid back the loan. And that was the beginning of Dr. Yunus's groundbreaking Grameen Bank.