Philadelphia, March 12, 2009 — The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has announced that Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, will be the featured speaker at the School’s MBA commencement in Philadelphia. The May 17 ceremony will occur at 1 p.m. at Franklin Field, 33rd and South streets.
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Yunus as our commencement speaker,” said Wharton Dean Thomas Robertson. “Through his life’s work he has inspired our students and millions worldwide proving that business and entrepreneurship can serve as a positive force in the world.”
For more than three decades Dr. Yunus has sought to alleviate the suffering of poverty. Instrumental in the establishment of the Rural Economics Program in Bangladesh, he believed that even the very poor could become entrepreneurs deserving of small loans. What started as
Dr. Yunus’ own small business loans to Bangladeshi villagers grew into the full-fledged Grameen Bank (which means Village Bank). Grameen Bank now has 7.5 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women, and has lent over $7 billion with a near 100 percent repayment rate.
Dr. Yunus has seeded several other companies in Bangladesh to abate poverty and aid development, including mobile phone services company GrameenPhone, started by 1987 Wharton MBA alumnus Iqbal Quadir. Dr. Yunus is also the founder of Grameen Trust, which extends the Grameen microcredit system all over the world. Together with Grameen Bank, Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create economic and social development, the first Bangladeshi and the third Bengali to be so honored.
In addition to serving as the Wharton School MBA commencement speaker, Dr. Yunus will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Penn President Amy Gutmann at the University of Pennsylvania’s 253rd Commencement, May 18. Additional information about the 253rd Commencement ceremony is available at 215-573-4723 or www.upenn.edu/commencement.
About Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been instrumental in lifting people worldwide out of poverty with the pioneering use of microcredit—supporting income generating activities by lending small amounts without collateral to the poor.
Dr. Yunus received his BA and MA in economics at Dhaka University in Bangladesh. A Fulbright scholar, he earned his PhD in economics from Vanderbilt University, and became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University in 1969. Inspired by an independent Bangladesh emerging in 1971, he returned to join the economics department of University of Chittagong. His active involvement in poverty reduction, spurred by the famine of 1974, led to the establishment of the Rural Economics Program.
Despite the lending practices of the time, which either preyed upon or simply ignored the poor, Dr. Yunus strongly believed that given the chance, the poor would repay borrowed money, put it to good use and even rise out of poverty. What started as Dr. Yunus’ own small business loans to Bangladeshi villagers grew into the full-fledged Grameen Bank (which means Village Bank). Grameen Bank now has 7.5 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women, and has lent over $7 billion with a near 100% repayment rate.
Dr. Yunus has founded several other companies in Bangladesh to abate poverty and aid development, including mobile phone services, energy, education and health care. He is also the founder of Grameen Trust, which extends the Grameen microcredit system all over the world.
Together with Grameen Bank, Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create economic and social development, the first Bangladeshi and the third Bengali to be so honored. He has won a number of other awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize and Sydney Peace Prize, and is the author of the bestselling books Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism in 2008. In his home country, he has received the President’s Award, Central Bank Award and Independence Day Award, the highest national award. He is also a member of the Legion d’Honneur and one of the founding members of Global Elders, chaired by Nelson Mandela.
About the Wharton School
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The school has more than 4,700 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 12,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of more than 84,000 graduates.
For more information: www.wharton.upenn.edu