Nobel Prize Talks: Muhammad Yunus
Rather than ask whether people are ‘creditworthy’, should we ask whether banks are ‘peopleworthy’? Muhammad Yunus, awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, sees a capitalist system where the rich get richer while large parts of the world’s population live under difficult conditions. In this conversation he talks about empowering people through microfinance and how the joint participation of women is necessary for any society to succeed. Yunus presents a vision of a future in which poverty and unemployment are eradicated, and each individual’s creativity released.
Interview with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, 12 December 2006. The interviewer is Marika Griehsel, freelance journalist. Nobelprize.org apologizes for the slight deterioration in the sound quality during the second half of this interview.
Telephone interview with Professor Muhammad Yunus immediately following the announcement of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, 13 October 2006. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org.
[Muhammad Yunus’ assistant, Akhtar] – Hello.
[Adam Smith] – Hello, Akhtar, this is Adam Smith, from Stockholm.
[Akhtar] – Hello.
[AS] – Hello.
[Akhtar] – Yes.
[AS] – Is it possible to speak to Professor Yunus now?
[Akhtar] – You are from?
[AS] – From Stockholm. This is Adam Smith from the Nobel Foundation, from the website of the Nobel Foundation.
[Akhtar] – Oh, OK, just hold on.
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – Hello.
[AS] – Hello, Professor Yunus, this is Adam Smith from the website of the Nobel Foundation.
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – Oh, I’m not Yunus, I’m not Yunus. I’m his brother speaking. He’s busy with many people around him.
[AS] – Ah-ha, right. Would it be possible to spend just a couple of minutes, just one or two minutes speaking to him?
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – Yeah, yeah, but we have to … I will appreciate if you can call in just a few minutes.
[AS] – A few minutes. Should I hold or …
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – It’s OK?
[AS] – Yes, shall I hold on the telephone because it has been very difficult to get through, so shall I just hold?
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – Oh, I see, I see, I see. This is from Nobel? Hello, from where are you speaking?
[AS] – Yes, we call from Stockholm, from the website of the Foundation, the Nobel Foundation, and we …
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – OK, OK, OK. Please don’t take more than two minutes, OK?
[AS] – I promise I will not.
[Muhammad Yunus’ brother] – Hang on just a minute.
[Muhammad Yunus] – Hello, hello.
[AS] – Hello, Professor Yunus?
[MY] – Yes, yes, yes, speaking.
[AS] – Hello, thank you, my name’s Adam Smith. I’m calling from the website of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm to congratulate you, and just to ask …
[MY] – Oh, thank you so much.
[AS] – We record one minute of interview with new Laureates as soon as they hear, so this is for this purpose.
[MY] – OK.
[AS] – I just wanted to ask you …
[MY] – OK, go ahead.
[AS] – Two very quick questions. The first is, obviously the prize will bring greatly increased publicity for your work, is there a particular message…
[MY] – Absolutely.
[AS] – Is there any particular message you would like to use the opportunity to get across?
[MY] – The one message that we are trying to promote all the time, that poverty in the world is an artificial creation. It doesn’t belong to human civilization, and we can change that, we can make people come out of poverty and have the real state of affairs. So the only thing we have to do is to redesign our institutions and policies, and there will be no people who will be suffering from poverty. So I would hope that this award will make this message heard many times, and in a kind of forceful way, so that people start believing that we can create a poverty-free world. That’s what I would like to do.
[AS] – Thank you very much, and does your work with the …
[MY] – Thank you.
[AS] – Does your work with the Grameen Bank over the last three decades make you more hopeful that this is possible?
[MY] – Oh yes, very much, we see the demonstration of it every day. People come out of poverty every day. So it’s right in front of us what happens and it can be done globally, it can be done more forcefully, we can organize more things to go with it, so this is something not theoretical issue, it’s a very real issue. People can change their own lives, provided they have the right kind of institutional support. They’re not asking for charity, charity is no solution to poverty. Poverty is the creation of opportunities like everybody else has, not the poor people, so bring them to the poor people, so that they can change their lives. That’s all we are doing. We didn’t do anything special; lend money to the people so – but they never lent it to the poor people – all we did was we lent it to the poor people, and that makes the trick. That makes the change.
[AS] – Thank you very much indeed for speaking to us.
[MY] – Thank you, thank you.
[AS] – One can hear in the background just how exciting this is for everybody so I’ll let you get back to it.
[MY] – I know, I know, there’s a big crowd here, I know. Thank you, thank you very much, bye, bye.
[AS] – Congratulations, bye, bye.
[MY] – Bye, bye. Thank you.
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