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Pioneer of microcredit movement takes home 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bangangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, who created Grameen Bank, which pioneered small loans to enable the poor to set up businesses, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize in October.

The World Council of Churches hailed the news of the award to Mr. Yunus, saying that his "efforts and hard work are bringing hope to the poor and economically and socially marginalized" and are "in keeping with the aims and purposes of the ecumenical movement." It noted that within the ecumenical community, the idea of micro-credit has given birth to initiatives like Oikocredit and the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund. (Many Canadian Anglicans are involved in the Oikocredit Support Associations in Canada. Jill Martin, manager of finance with the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, was recently elected president of the board of directors of Oikocredit, a worldwide co-operative society.)

"Muhammad Yunus gave a new perspective for life to the 1.1 billion people that live on less than a dollar a day," Tor G. Gull, managing director of Oikocredit, told Ecumenical News International (ENI). "Some 450 million of them have already been reached with small loans that help to build up their own sources of income and many more are yet to come."

Nicknamed "Banker to the Poor," Mr. Yunus set up Grameen Bank in 1976 with an initial capital of $27 to provide small loans to the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh, most of them women, that enabled them to become small entrepreneurs.

"Microfinance helps people in developing countries to have access to credit and banking services they would never get in the commercial world. It has been proved that it can help get people out of poverty," Karima Wardak of Oikocredit told ENI.
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Title Annotation:WORLD
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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