Muhammad Yunus

In 1974, famine gripped Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands died and millions became destitute. "Villagers had to borrow from loan sharks on terrible conditions," says Muhammad Yunus, "and some even became slave labor for the money lenders." For Yunus, who had just returned to Bangladesh as an economics professor after completing his Ph.D. in the U.S., it was wrenching to discover how meaningless his academic achievements were in the midst of all this suffering. Hoping to cure his own sense of helplessness, he wandered the muddy lanes of a village next to his university, searching for ways to help. Little did he...

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