Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and developer of microfinance and microcredit, spoke about the power of technology and innovation to lift people out of poverty at the Social Good Summit on Saturday.
Needless to say, Yunus’s Grameen Bank was unprecedented when it began making microloans in the 1970s, and the bank has had a major impact: Microloans have helped hundreds of millions of people toward escaping poverty.
Yunus believes too many people live in poverty, and that that’s a problem that needs to be fixed. A non-traditional approach, like the part-business, part-philanthropy microfinance, is what’s needed.
“If your system leaves human beings in that situation, you have to change that system,” he said.
Technology can also help, he said, noting that 85 million of 160 million people in Bangladesh have mobile phones. Mobile phones have emerged in recent years as commonly used tools for banking operations — like making microloans — in the developing world.
Yunus said he doesn’t “feel scared about changes”; rather, he’s excited. “We should be hopeful about the changes, because this gives us an opportunity.”
Yunus is also a a strong believer in the power of young people and their creativity to effect change — a major theme of the Social Good Summit.
“Young people are capable of doing much more today than ever in the history of mankind,” he said, adding, “You are an inspiration for all of us on how you can positively disrupt the norm.”