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Muhammad Yunus

The Bangladeshi economist has helped millions by pioneering microcredit. Now he has a new idea—social business—which he believes can eliminate world poverty

By Mark Hannam   April 2008

Muhammad Yunus is a modest man with much to be immodest about. In the mid-1970s, he started providing small loans to the poor of Bangladesh and in 1983 he established a bank, which he called Grameen (“of the village” in Bengali). Grameen flourished, and now employs 25,000 people. Every year it lends over $500m in small loans, primarily to women. This “microcredit” model has been copied all over the developing world, and in 2006 Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize.

Not content with setting up one business, Yunus has created a series of companies under…

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