Berlin, den 13.10.2006

Liebe Freunde des Entrepreneurship, soeben habe ich erfahren, dass Prof. Yunus den Friedensnobelpreis erhalten hat. Dies freut mich deswegen besonders, weil durch die Auszeichnung der Gedanke des „Entrepreneurship für Alle“ mehr Aufmerksamkeit auch hier in Deutschland finden wird. Wenn Menschen in Entwicklungsländern, oft des Lesens und Schreibens nicht mächtig, erfolgreich Entrepreneure werden können, dann sollte dies eigentlich auch bei uns möglich sein. Best and cheers Prof. Günter Faltin Dear Friends of Entrepreneurship, If you listened to the news this morning, you may have heard that Mohammad Yunus has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. This is a much-deserved honor for one of the most modest, unassuming, yet influential people of our time. Some of you have met him: Yunus was the speaker at Babson’s Martin Luther King Celebration in 2005. Today is a day of celebration for our friend Mohammad Yunus, for the war against poverty, for entrepreneurship, and for us all. About Mohammad Yunus: Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, is the inventor of the micro-loan and of banking without collateral. After studying economics on a Fulbright scholarship in the United States, Yunus returned to Bengal in 1972, after the war of separation from Pakistan had created the nation of Bangladesh. As the head of the economics department at the University of Chittagong, he noticed the poverty in the villages surrounding the university and discovered that the most severe suffering occurred among women; even when they worked from dawn to dusk, they could never get out of poverty. Many were at the mercy of usurious money lenders, since the all-male banking establishment would give them no credit. But the reality was that most women needed just tiny loans, from 22 cents to 25 dollars, to be able to buy supplies for the small businesses they conducted, such as weaving bamboo stools. Yunus persuaded a bank to let him serve as guarantor for a loan of $ 300. He parceled that money out in small amounts and required tiny but frequent repayments, which were handled by women in borrower groups that provided mutual encouragement and some social control. No collateral was required, but the Grameen Bank, founded in 1977 in a country where wealthy borrowers routinely fail to repay their loans, has a repayment rate of over 98%, the highest of any bank in the world. Most of its loans go to women (94% as of 1998); it has trained tens of thousands of women to handle credit and has hired many into the banking business (despite huge resistance from their conservative relatives). It has become the model for a world-wide micro-credit movement that stimulates small-scale self-employment. When Professor Yunus spoke at Babson last year, he told us that in his patriarchal country, a man with money in his pocket would always spend it on himself first (and not always wisely). A woman would first spend it on her children, then on the household, and on herself last of all. As a result, women presented an excellent risk for banks, since their social behavior encouraged responsible economic behavior. Women who borrowed money from the Grameen Bank in their own name to support a small business venture gained power in their family and community, were able to support education for the next generation, and to model the entrepreneurial process.In his compelling autobiography, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (1999), Yunus talks about his initial observations and experiments, and about how he and his co-workers learned from their mistakes. With its pragmatic, unpretentious approach, Banker to the Poor can serve as a blueprint for how entrepreneurship can shape the future of the world. 13.10.2006, Babson Park / Berlin Prof. Fritz Fleischmann             Prof. Günter Faltin