Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated nations in the world, is the country into which Nobel Laureate Dr. Mohammad Yunus was born. As an economist, he wrestled with an essential question: How can people be raised out of poverty?
During stays with villagers across Bangladesh, Yunus surmised that poverty was not the fault of the poor, but instead was due to the lack of systems that could successfully address the needs of struggling classes. Despite their best intentions, even the most industrious villagers couldn’t make enough money to start businesses and keep them running.
Yunus’s solution began in 1976, when he took $27 out of his pocket and gave it to a group of artisans in the village of Jobra in Southern Bangladesh, with the simple promise he would get the money back. The craftsmen bought much-needed supplies, and eventually paid back their loan in full. This first experience encouraged Yunus to start Grameen Bank, which provides “micro-loans” to Bangladesh’s citizens. Now, decades later, Grameen Bank has provided 13 billion dollars in loans, 99 percent of which have been repaid.
Dr. Jeff Snell, CEO of the International Folk Art Market (IFAM) comments, “In so many ways, Yunus is a perfect match for the International Folk Art Market, coming full circle to join artisans from around the world in Santa Fe at the largest and most successful market of its kind. For 15 years, IFAM has provided a platform by which artisans from a range of economic backgrounds can achieve success through lasting connections made through IFAM’s Markets and programs. From the beginning, Yunus had faith in the strength and potential of the people he saw everyday. Built on personal trust and respect, his work serves as an inspiration to IFAM and the global artisan sector. The amazing results speak for themselves.”
Yunus will be in Santa Fe July 12 to lead the popular procession of artists at Thursday night’s community event on the Santa Fe Plaza, which is free and open to the public. He will also attend IFAM’s One World Dinner that evening, as well as IFAM’s world famous opening night gala on Friday, July 13. In addition to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Yunus has also been lauded with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Gandhi Peace Price, and Congressional Gold Medal, and many other accolades.