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Capacity Audience to Hear Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 nobel laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, will address a capacity audience on Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Caruso Auditorium on Pepperdine's Malibu campus. His address, titled "Social Enterprise: Doing Well by Doing Good," will be telecast live Saturday and the University will provide a video stream of the address on its Web site beginning Thursday, Oct. 25. Due to overwhelming response, there is no more seating for this event.

Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering microcredit--using collateral-free loans of small amounts to help millions of families out of poverty. Borrowers receive modest amounts of cash, often as little as $20, to start or grow a small business.

In 1976, Yunus founded Grameen Bank with a mere $27 dollars from his own pocket. Today, Grameen Bank has made a total of $6.44 billion in loans to 7.27 million borrowers and almost 99 percent of the loans have been repaid. The bank is fully owned by its clients and has been a model for microfinance institutions around the world.

Yunus is now beginning a new mission: Grameen America, the first Grameen Bank style microcredit program in the United States. Grameen America will focus on savings and credit establishment and providing loans and savings programs to foster entrepreneurship among the poor throughout the nation.

Recognizing his work in helping to eradicate poverty worldwide, representatives of Pepperdine University's Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, in January of this year to present Yunus with the Palmer Center's Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In thanking the Palmer Center for the honor, Yunus said, "It is a symbol that you felt something so strongly to come all the way here. Our two institutions are bonding together today to dream that a new world can happen, and we'll make it happen step by step." The Grameen/Pepperdine partnership continued this past summer when the Palmer Center sent three students to Bangladesh to intern with Yunus.

Yunus' lecture at Pepperdine caps a week at the School of Law which features a book signing on Tuesday, Oct. 16, by Edward J. Larson, Pepperdine's Hugh and Hazel Darling Professor of Law and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. Then on Friday, Oct. 18, the School of Law will host a Constitutional symposium on the Roberts Court with preeminent Constitutional scholars Jeffrey Rosen, Joan Biskupic, Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, Judge Steven Reinhardt, Vikram Amar, Kathleen Sullivan, and Pepperdine's Douglas Kmiec and Dean Kenneth Starr.

About Dr. Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus was born on June 28, 1940, as the third of 14 children in the village of Bathua in Hathazari, Chittagong, the business center of what was then Eastern Bengal. His father was a successful goldsmith who always encouraged his sons to seek higher education. His mother Sufia Khatun always helped any impoverished people who knocked on their door, inspiring the family to care about the poor.

By 1974, Muhammad Yunus was a professor of economics at Chittagong University. One day, as he led his students on a field trip to a poor village, they met a woman who made bamboo stools and learned that after buying the raw bamboo and repaying the middleman, she was left with only a penny profit margin. Had she been able to borrow at more advantageous rates, she would have been able to amass an economic cushion and raise herself above a subsistence level.

Realizing that there must be something terribly wrong with the economics he was teaching, Yunus took matters into his own hands and from his own pocket lent assistance to basket-weavers. He found that it was possible with a tiny amount not only to help them survive but also to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise necessary to pull themselves out of poverty.

Against the advice of banks and government, Dr. Yunus continued to give out "micro-loans" and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank on principles of trust and solidarity. Today the bank has made a total of $6.44 billion in loans to 7.27 million borrowers and remains a model for microfinance institutions around the world.