Nobel Prize

If You Want Peace, End Poverty

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on Oct 13, 2006

In very exciting news, microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunas and the Grameen Bank he founded have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their work bringing people out of poverty in Bangladesh. This is a great win for everyone who believes that the path to peace is through ending poverty and that technology can help achieve this.

Yunas came up with the concept of microfinance, which has made it possible for millions of Bangladeshis to rise out of poverty. He has also made great strides in bringing technology to poor areas in Bangladesh, particularly cell phones.

The Grameen Phone initiative uses cell phones for economic development. How it works is that banks give loans so people can purchase mobile phones and in turn rent them out to others in their villages. These phones are often the first access entire villages have to a telephone. Not only do these phones make excellent businesses for the people who manage them, but they also make it possible for everyone in the town to work more efficiently through faster communications. A case study about this program is available here. I’ve also written about it here.

And not surprisingly, access to mobile technology is bringing about the development of innovative new tools to meet Bangladeshi’s specific needs. One example is the service Cell Bazaar, a kind of mobile Craig’s List that people can use to check prices before they buy or sell a product to make sure they are getting the best rate.

Congratulations Yunas and Grameen Bank. Your win is a great achievement for the movement behind using technology for social change, the field of microfinance, and everyone in Bangladesh.