Melitta J. Cutright
OAK BROOK, Illinois, June 2, 2008 – Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D., Nobel Peace Prize winner and managing director of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, is the recipient of the 2008 Lions Humanitarian Award. As founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, Yunus pioneered the use of a microcredit business model on a large scale by issuing loans to economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs who could not qualify for a traditional loan.
Yunus will be presented with this prestigious award at the 91st Lions Clubs International Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, June 27. The Lions Humanitarian Award, the highest honor of the association, includes a US$200,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation for continuing humanitarian activities. Previous recipients include former U. S. President Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa.
"Muhammad Yunus truly exemplifies the spirit of humanitarian service," said Mahendra Amarasuriya, president of Lions Clubs International. "His efforts have made a tremendous difference in the lives of millions of individuals and communities throughout the world."
Yunus began his microcredit business project in 1976 after securing funding from a state bank of Bangladesh to distribute business loans to the economically disadvantaged. Membership in the project grew to more than 28,000 members by 1983, when Yunus formally founded it as Grameen Bank. The organization diversified during the 1980s and 1990s by funding underutilized fishing ponds and agricultural irrigation projects, and has expanded into a family of profitable and nonprofit ventures spanning the telecommunications, education, renewable energy and retail industries. The bank has issued US$6.38 billion to 7.4 million borrowers to date.
Yunus, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University, also serves as a member of the World Bank's Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development, UNESCO's International Advisory Panel and the United Nations Foundation's Board of Directors. He is the author of numerous publications, the recipient of 29 honorary degrees and the winner of many awards, including the World Food Prize, the Sydney Peace Prize and the Ecuadorian Peace Prize. His newest book, "Creating a World Without Poverty," has received critical praise.
Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographic areas. In addition to its efforts toward conquering blindness, the organization has made a strong commitment to community service and helping youth throughout the world. To learn more about Lions Clubs International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.