Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, 'Father of Microfinance,' to Speak Sunday at U-Hall

September 15, 2009
September 15, 2009 — Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate known by many as the "father of microfinance," will speak Sunday at the University of Virginia's University Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m., and Yunus' talk – free and open to the public – is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

The Bangladeshi economist is credited with helping to alleviate poverty in his South Asian nation by making small loans to the poorest of entrepreneurs, most of them women.

"He created the whole concept of social entrepreneurship," said Gowher Rizvi, vice provost for international programs at U.Va.

Yunus launched Grameen Bank in 1976. Since then, millions of people have lifted themselves out of poverty with the help of tiny, collateral-free loans, and the concept of microfinance has become a global movement.

Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The Nobel committee called Yunus "a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries."

In August, Yunus was invited to the White House along with 15 others and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation's highest civilian honor.

Yunus is the guest of Rizvi, who has known the Nobel laureate for many years.

University Hall can accommodate 7,000 people. Free parking will be available in the John Paul Jones Arena and University Hall parking lots.

— By Jane Kelly