Magazine article The Christian Century

Peace Prize Winner among Pioneers in Microfinance Loans

Magazine article The Christian Century

Peace Prize Winner among Pioneers in Microfinance Loans

Article excerpt

This year's selection of the Nobel Peace Prize winner has thrown the spotlight on Christian-supported microfinance and banking institutions that make small loans to help poor people build a future.

The Norwegian Peace Prize committee announced that this year's award will go jointly to Bangladesh economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank as one of the pioneer groups helping to overcome poverty, especially in developing nations.

Opportunity International, a Christian ministry based in Oak Brook, Illinois, congratulated the winners for their role in helping to make microfinance "a proven, long-term solution to poverty." The U.S. group was founded in 1971, five years before Grameen Bank was started by Yunus.

Christopher A. Crane, president and CEO of Opportunity International, said his organization recently announced a $1 billion, seven-year plan to help 100 million people work their way out of poverty by 2015. "The appeal of microfinance is that it gives a hand up, not a handout," Crane said in a statement.

Peace Prize winner Yunus, 66, has been nicknamed a "banker to the poor" for setting up his Grameen Bank to extend small loans, known as microcredit, to the very poorest in Bangladesh, particularly women, enabling them to start up small businesses. …

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