The Story Behind the Books: Working With
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus
Even before I met Professor Muhammad Yunus--pioneer of microcredit, founder of the world-famous Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize--he was a hero of mine. Today, having worked with him on two best-selling books, my admiration for Prof. Yunus has only increased. He is single-mindedly dedicated to helping poor people the world over improve their lives and those of their communities and countries. He is also one of the most
imaginative and innovative thinkers anywhere in the world.
I was introduced to Prof. Yunus by our mutual friend, the publisher Peter Osnos of PublicAffairs, who had just signed Yunus to author his second book. We met in Tampa, Florida in 2006, just a few months before the Nobel Prize committee announced its decision to award Prof. Yunus the Peace Prize. Prof. Yunus and I hit it off and we agreed that I would help him with the book.
We spent the next nine months working closely together. I witnessed Prof. Yunus carrying out his usual whirlwind schedule of running Grameen Bank, helping to organize and develop its newest poverty-combatting projects, and traveling the world to promote his two big ideas: microcredit and social business.
In the midst of this activity, Prof. Yunus would take time out whenever possible to talk with me--to explain his ideas, to show me how they worked out in practice, and to introduce me to colleagues and associates who carry out the amazing work of Grameen Bank and its affiliated organizations. The insights and stories we shared became the basis of chapters in our book.
I’ll never forget the month I spent in Bangladesh in early 2007. My wife Mary-Jo
and I traveled the country, visiting branches of Grameen Bank and touring such unique and remarkable projects as the Grameen Danone yogurt factory in Bogra (a business designed to improve the nutrition of undernourished Bangladeshi children while generating profits sufficient both to support itself and to promote expansion) and the Grameen Shakti company (one of the world’s largest solar-energy businesses, which is bringing renewable power to homes and businesses throughout Bangladesh).
We discovered one of the world’s poorest countries, which is also a beautiful land filled with kind and generous people who burn with entrepreneurial energy and the determination to build a better future for themselves and their children. My later encounters with the people of Bangladesh have only confirmed my admiration for them--as well as my sense that I am deeply privileged to have been able to help their national hero, Prof. Yunus, spread his message of practical hope and economic reform to the people of the world.