Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pioneering the use of microcredit, the extension of small loans to benefit poor entrepreneurs.
The Nobel Committee said Yunus and the bank he founded had used the innovative program to ''create economic and social development from below.''
''Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development,'' the committee said in its citation.
Grameen Bank provides credit to ''the poorest of the poor'' in rural Bangladesh, without any collateral, according to its Web site. Its model of micro financing has inspired similar efforts around the world.
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An absolutely brilliant choice by the Nobel committee. Microcredit (and microfinance in general) is an idea whose time has come, and everyone on the political spectrum from the soft-left European socialists to the American hard right can agree that giving the desperately poor access to capital to improve their lot is a Good Thing.