On 13th October 2007, the Bangladeshi Students Association, together with the Student Union, the Dean of Students Office and the International Students Consortium at Boston University organized for a speech of Dr Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winning Economist. Here is the article from the university's student newsletter.
Dr Yunus speaks at
Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose economic practices have helped poor people start their own businesses around the world, told Boston University students they can help solve global issues by narrowing their focus in a visit to the University.
More than 1,300 people lined up to hear Yunus discuss how he combats world poverty as founder of the Grameen Bank, which gives credit to the Bangladeshi poor without requiring collateral, but instead relies on a system of mutual trust. The bank provides small-sized loans to 7.5 million borrowers and is considered the most successful bank in the world with a 98 percent loan-recovery rate.
"A good way to get involved in any issue is to take a little bite-size piece of the problem and try to solve it," said Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his microfinance work. "It gives you confidence to try again and again, which creates a system."
Yunus, a Bangladeshi native, said he became inspired to relieve poverty in his country while teaching economics at a university there.
"You are teaching these beautiful, sophisticated theories in economics," Yunus said. "At the end of the day, you see the stark reality of the country and you wonder what good [economics] is. All those brilliant theories aren't useful in the situation around you."
Yunus said he learned that 42 villagers had collectively owed $27 to moneylenders, a debt small by Western standards but hindering to the lives of the villagers. He lent the villagers the money and asked them to pay him back when they could.
"People began to look at me very strange, as if I had descended from heaven," Yunus said. "I thought, if for $27 you can become a god, why not do more?"
After two years fighting for government approval, Yunus set up a bank that eliminated collateral. He simultaneously gave millions of poor people the opportunity to generate their own income by setting up their own businesses, he said.
The bank has helped 64 percent of its borrowers cross the poverty line, and Yunus said he hopes all of them will pass it by 2016.
Yunus also encouraged the borrowers to let their children get an education, and now 100 percent of those children attend school.
"A new generation is coming from this," Yunus said. "These children will create a new wave."
The Bangladeshi Students Association, the Student Union, the Dean of Students Office and the International Students Consortium organized the event to educate and impassion students about the war on poverty.
"We asked ourselves, 'What can we do that'll really make a difference at BU and put a positive spotlight on Bangladesh?'" said BSA President Syed Hyat in an email. "We realized that inviting Dr. Yunus to speak about his innovative methods of alleviating poverty would do just that."
Many students said Yunus's simple plan represented ease in becoming involved in global issues.
"You just have to think about what you care about and find someone who's struggling," said School of Medicine post-graduate student Sridevi Ellickal.
Yunus's practices have spread to Zambia, Guatemala, India, China and Costa Rica. Queens, N.Y. will be Yunus's first venture in the United States.
"The problem is tough, but the solution is so simple," Yunus said.
The Daily Free Press, Student Newspaper of Boston University