الأحد, ديسمبر 4, 2022
الرئيسيةبحوث ودراسات اقتصاديةبحوث وأوراقProfessor Muhammad Yunus ....A Leader Who Makes Difference
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Professor Muhammad Yunus ….A Leader Who Makes Difference

                                       Professor  Muhammad Yunus

                                       A Leader Who Makes Difference.


                                       By; Elsidieg Abashera



 This paper is about professor Yunus, winner of Noble Peace Prize in 2006. He born in

1940 in a village called Bathua in country of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country located

in Asia, and more precisely in northeast of Indian Subcontinent. It was part of India till

1947 where became part of Pakistan, and  it ,thereafter, became an independent country

by its own on December 16,1971. Population of Bangladesh at time of independence was

estimated to 120 million and now is estimated to be 150,448,339 (2007) (1). It is a poor

country. Dhaka is the capital , and at same time is the largest city, where  its population

as a metropolitan area  was estimated in 2003 to be 12,560,000.(2).

 Professor yunus was born in a family that was working in jewelry business in city of

Chittagong , biggest port in Bangladesh, where his family owned its own store. Professor

Yunus full name is Muhammad Yunus, his father name was Dula Mia, and his mother

name was Sofia Khatun. The family where was born was a big family, “My mother had

fourteen children, five of whom died young. My elder sister , Mumtaz, eight years older

than me, married when she was still a teenager.”(3)

Professor yunus graduated in economics at  college of Chittagong in Bangladesh. He

came United States Of America in 1965 on Fulbright scholarship where he did his Ph.D

at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. After obtaining his degree in 1969 he taught

economics at Middle Tennessee University in Murfreesboro until 1971. In early 1972 he

returned back to his country Bangladesh which has become an independent country on

December 16, 1971.

Professor Yunus As A Leader:

Professor Yunus leadership has reflected itself in two things that he has envisioned, and

Persistently he believes in their viability, first is Grameen Bank that he has established

And second is the concept of micro credit that he has crafted and promoted it. The main

Objective he tries to serve by these two means is reduction of poverty and even more is its

eradication, because he believes that could happen, “I have always believed that

elimination of poverty from the world is a matter of will”. (4)

In order to address the above two projects and see what qualities of leadership that

Professor Yunus has shown during the course of implementing them in people’s lives, it

is worth mentioning that we might need to differentiate between two phases in professor

Yunus’s life, which are before and after his coming to the United States Of America.

Before coming to United States of America, Professor Yunus was teaching economics in

College at city of Chittagong. A teacher who was, on one hand, influenced by his mother

Who was used helping poor people and relatives, “she was probably the strongest

Influence on me. Full of compassion and kindness, Mother always put money away for

any poor relatives who visited us from distant villages. It was she, by her concern for the

Poor and the disadvantaged, who helped me, discover my interest in economics and social

reform.”(5), and on other hand, by growing up, in fact, in a business family he was

able to develop that strong sense of entrepreneurship, where he established his own

business after his graduation and while he was, at same time, teaching at college, “I

quickly set up a packaging and printing plant, which employed 100 workers. Over time it

turned out to be a successful project making a healthy yearly profit”. (6)

What fore mentioned was most probably what characterized and represented main theme

Of that phase of professor Yunus’s life before coming to USA for study.

The second phase of his life refers to the years that professor Yunus spent in America as

student and as an economics lecture at Middle Tennessee University, and also includes

his years after returning to his home country Bangladesh. It is worth saying that when he

left for United States his country was part of an other country and that was Pakistan, and

on his return he came back to an independent country with its integral sovereignty called

Bangladesh. Independence of  his country was part of his experience in America, and that

will be addressed later.

In America Professor Yunus was exposed to a completely different culture. The new

culture that he was experiencing not being different merely on educational aspect, but

socially and politically too. The major thing that had struck him was the way woman

treated, and how she has equal rights not only as law spells but as people do practice it

in daily life. The issue of woman was, in his country, a different story, “I will never

forget the first time I entered a restaurant in Boulder to have the waitress say “Hi, my

name is Cheryl, and offer me a big smile and a glass of water with lots of ice in it.  No

one in my country or in South Asia would ever treat a stranger so openly and

forthrightly.”(7)   He saw with his own eyes how women are involved in life, not only as

part of community, but even more as productive partners. That was a new phenomenon

to a person who came from a culture where woman, in general, doesn’t count! It could

be said that that specific new cultural experience regarding woman had great impact on

Professor Yunus’s thoughts. It had lately, reshaped his vision about role he gave to

woman in his main projects of Grameen Bank, and micro credit, where percentage of

women among those who benefit from them has reached 97%, “Unlike conventional

bank Grameen bank provides credits (micro credit) to the poor people without any

collateral. As of may 2006 it has 6.61million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are


Professor Yunus came to America during the Sixties where political life and activism

were at peak. It happened that during same time his country was start fighting for its

independence from Pakistan. He engaged heavily with other Bengalis scholars,

professionals and students, in United States of America, for the cause of his country. He

participated in organizing campaigns, meetings, talking to media, and even demonstrating

at Capitol Hill in Washington DC. The activism of all Bengalis in America had

Contributed positively to stop Pakistani army from committing genocides against civilians

in Bangladesh, and finally their activism help their country to get its independence.

That experience, which was part of his American experience, had helped to sharpen

Professor Yunus’s leadership capabilities, even the way of his thinking and understanding

Of things including his own life and future role, “I knew that I had to return home and

Participate in the work of nation building. I thought I owed it to myself.”(9)

After returning home, he went back to teaching economics at his old college in city of

Chittagong, but at same time he was thinking to help poor population, especially women.

He was quite convinced that something has to be done about poverty in his country. He

had come to the point that financing on micro level might help in reducing poverty rates

among population. Many poor people are skillful and could be productive if they have

that small money to buy materials that  they can use for producing their products. The

way Professor Yunus started his project seems like an utopian dream, but it turned to be a

huge deed that has real potentials that did benefit million of people not only in

Bangladesh and other poor countries, but in developed ones too. His vision was to solve

problem that poor people do face, which was lack of financing. Solution he suggested

was to make finance accessible through micro credit. He dedicated himself to that vision,

“There is perhaps no greater authority on how to make credit available to the poor than

Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank.”(10)

Professor Yunus has started his rural banking in 1977 – Grameen Bank by virtue of loan

he guaranteed from one of the commercial banks  in Bangladesh called Janata Bank. He

quit teaching economics at college and became a full time director of Grameen Bank. He

decided from the beginning that his bank must be different from conventional banks. The

first thing he did to make it works different from conventional banks was the way his

Bank should handle its loan operation, “in structuring our credit program, I decided to do

exactly the opposite of traditional banks. To overcome the psychological barrier of

parting with large sums. I decide to institute a daily payment program. I made the loan

payments so small that borrowers would barely miss the money.”(11)

Grameen Bank adopts recruiting of young people and its policy is that employees work

with borrowers person to person in fields, by traveling from one village to another to

meet with poor people and offer them micro loans. Employees were trained to accept that

way of working which is a new way of banking, and matter of fact is a challenge, and that

was exactly what makes Grameen Bank a different bank. Grameen bank has set and

established its own organizational culture, whether in reference to its operation or to its

targeting of poor people. Professor Yunus might have summarized that clearly when

wrote, “We immerse each new young worker in the Grameen culture and the culture of

the poor, teaching him or her to appreciate the unexplored potential of the destitute.”(12)

The projects of the Grameen Bank and micro credit were successful, and numbers don’t

lie, within five years members of the bank were 28000 members, little less than half

were women, and “as of may 2006, it has 6.74 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom

are women. With 2259 branches ,GB provides services in 72,833 villages, covering more

than 86 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh.”(13)

the bank has built its policy around encouraging engagement of its members and

borrowers in regular meeting , where they discuss their common affairs and to

democratically choose their leaders.  Choosing of women to be leaders in poor country

side of Bangladesh, was a new emerging tradition, it was not known before, and that what

Grameen Bank has done. By adopting popular participation in his project and by

encouraging it, Professor Yunus has proved that he is a participative leader, not only does

believe in it, rather does practice it consistently.

On the other hand Professor Yunus has broken through a conservative culture when he

enabled women in his home country to play a role in their communities by becoming

productive members of their society and even by assuming leadership to carry change

out in values, beliefs and in people perception about women, and in this sense professor

Yunus has stood out as a transforming leader, “the transforming leader achieves ‘

significant change’”. (14)

The new experiment and endeavor of reducing poverty advocated by professor Yunus

was recognized by international organizations like the World Bank, International

Monetary Fund, ..etc, and almost by whole world, even in The United States there is

Grameen Foundation (GF- USA), based in Washington DC, and there are some active

micro credit programs in different places like Dallas, Texas, Harlem, New York, and


Professor Yunus has not only, through his vision of new banking and micro credit,

challenged the old known methods of fighting poverty, but on intellectual level he

challenged some economic concepts such as development, credit worthy. He had

confronted banks at national level, international agencies, and international organizations

such as the World Bank and others. He thinks those organizations do adopt scaring tactics

in dealing with issues like poverty, population, and development in underdeveloped and

poor countries, “Governments and population agencies are not putting nearly as much

effort into changing the quality of life of the poor as they put into their scare tactics, such

as pressuring illiterate men and women to physically remove their ability to procreate.

UN studies conducted in more than forty developing countries show that the birth rate

falls as women gain equality.”(15)

professor Yunus has, in his vision, been driven by his content that right to credit should

be considered a human right rather than a privilege .Fact of the matter by going into that

direction he has taken the concept of “ right to credit” and “credit worthy” to a high level

of intellectualization, and that in final analysis might have enabled him to fascinate and

touch many people around the world.

Through Grameen Bank operation and micro credit practice, big communities of

borrowers were formed all over Bangladesh. Individuals of these communities become

sharing common values and very much believe in mission of their bank. The

understanding and assimilation of cooperative spirit that whole project advocates, by

borrowers had helped  Grameen Bank to have a high percentage of loans repayment

which has reached 98%, and that was one of fields in which Grameen  Bank outpaces

conventional banks.

Grameen Bank’s borrowers’ communities became gaining political influence, specially

on local levels in Bangladesh, “in 1992, some four hundred Grameen borrowers were

elected to union councils, and in 1996, Grameen borrowers led the way to an almost

unthinkable feat more women voted in the national election than men, which help to

nearly wipe a political party that had taken positions against women’s rights out of

parliament” (16). It worth noticing that Professor Yunus and all those who associated

with project of new banking and micro credit were succeeded to create some kind of

communities completely different from ethnic clans, and religious sects, specially in a

poor country that could be considered right environment for breeding of fanaticism on

both levels of ethnicity and religion. In that regards, what might have helped was the fact

that poverty does, as a human phenomenon, not discriminate in those poor countries on

base of  ethnicity or religions, as it goes across.

In standing for his vision, it is important to say that professor yunus has fallen short in his

criticizing of other institutions, specially international agencies and organizations. He

underestimates benefits of training that those organization see its importance for people

in fighting poverty, even he does question its viability, and undervalues its role in

alleviation of poverty, “Government decision- makers, many NGO’s and international

consultants usually start the work of poverty alleviation by launching very elaborate

training programs. They do this because they begin with the assumption that people are

poor because they lack skills…. I believe that many training programs are

counterproductive”. (17) This stands as an inaccurate addressing and even as a damaging

simplification of issue by Professor Yunus. It is known that training won’t done for its

own sake, but would be done because there are projects to be carried out. Those

Organizations, in general, do training in association with specific projects. Yes, it is

understandable to disagree with some projects which designed to alleviate poverty, but it

will be out of context to deny existence of projects , and engulf whole

objective and end of  those organization in training and training only!

The main premise of professor Yunus was that human beings are skillful by nature, “I

firmly believe that human beings have an innate skill”. (18) .So, that might be the reason

he was thinking that poor might not need, for instance, all those  “very elaborate training

programs”. In reality premise of professor Yunus doesn’t hold on, because the way

Grameen bank does business, it sends its employees to remote villages to see people and

get them enrolled as borrowers and members, and even helping them to hold their

meetings, and educate them how to follow policy of Grameen Bank, and its directives

for benefiting from its micro loans, and no doubt all those practices in essence do imply


On other hand, all that bright success of Professor’s Yunus vision could not only be

attributed, all together, to his abilities as a leader. Matter of the fact it wouldn’t be

possible without him having those associates and managers who weren’t only believed in

the mission, but they have worked hard for its materialization. An other factor needs to

considered, and that was help that been offered to Professor Yunus whether on official

level or on personal level. Such projects, as Grameen bank and micro credit, that generate

high popularity won’t see light in underdeveloped countries, specially when those

countries under military regimes, unless somehow some help offered by some good

hearted people who believe in good causes, “ Fortunately for us, the secretary of the

finance ministry, Mr. Syeduzzaman, was another friend of Grameen. Muhith enlisted his

support and took my proposal directly to the president. As a military dictator, the

president had no political legitimacy and perhaps he saw in Grameen a chance to score

some political points……in late September 1983, while I was on a tour of rangpur, I

received a call saying that the president had signed the proclamation and that the

Grameen Bank was born. That was a day of rejoicing.”(19)

As a conclusion, Professor Yunus proved, as a leader, that he was a man of vision. He

was well convinced of it and worked diligently to carry it out. He started addressing,

practically, the issue of poverty in his local community, but when bar was raised to

national and even to world wide level he accepted the challenge and led his organization

in a way that made it deserves the due respect and recognition for its role in helping poor

people and proving that poverty could be alleviated. It has been well pointed out

On October 13, 2006 by Noble Prize Committee when it has released that, “The

Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006,

divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts

to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be

achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty.

Micro credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance

Democracy and human rights” (20).


  • infoplease.com
  • infoplease.com
  • Yunus, Muhammad “Banker To The Poor”, P 6.
  • P248.
  • Ibid P 5.
  • Ibid P 15.
  • Ibid P 18.
  • muhammadyunus.org
  • Yunus,Muhammad, “Banker To The Poor”, P 29.
  • Rajan, G Raghuram & Zingales, Luigi, “saving Capitalism From the Capitalists” P4.
  • Yunus, Muhammad, “Banker To The Poor”, P 61.
  • P101.
  • muhammadyunus.org
  • Cauto, Richard, “The Transformation Of The transforming leadership”, Essay in “the Leader’s Companion” edited by J. Thomas Wren, P 103.
  • Yunus,Muhammad, “Banker To The Poor”, P134.
  • P 196.
  • Ibid, P 141.
  • Ibid, P 140.
  • Ibid, P. 119.
  • nobelprize.org

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