International anti-poverty campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus was installed as Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University in October 2012.
As Chancellor, he provides leadership, advice and support to the University and has pledged his inspirational stewardship in support of GCU’s undertaking to harness its intellectual, social and emotional capital and collaborate with others to find solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Professor Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Bank, a global movement dedicated to eradicating poverty through micro-lending to those with the very least in society, and he is an inspiration to young people around the world to devote themselves to social causes.
A recipient of 115 awards from 26 countries, Professor Yunus was presented with the US Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony on Capitol Hill, Washington, in April 2013. The Gold Medal represents the US Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.
Professor Yunus is one of only seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the US’s highest civilian honour) and the Congressional Gold Medal. The others are Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel and Norman Borlaug.
In December 2013, Professor Yunus was presented with a Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award in New York. The award lauds leaders of the international business, entertainment, and activist communities who demonstrate commitment to social change.
The seeds of microfinance were sown in 1976 when Professor Yunus was lecturing in economic theory at Chittagong University in Bangladesh. The poverty and predatory loan sharking he witnessed beyond its campus inspired a simple but significant gesture: he lent $27 to destitute craftsworkers.
In 1983 the Grameen Bank was established. Today the bank, which focuses its lending on women, operates in more than 40 countries and its model has been adopted in more than 60 others, including Scotland.
A world thought leader in social business, Professor Yunus has worked with GCU since 2008, when he gave the inaugural Magnusson Lecture and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters of the University.
GCU’s close collaboration with Professor Yunus inspired in 2010 the foundation of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Bangladesh to help raise nursing and midwifery training to an international standard.
In the same year, GCU established the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, which is undertaking pioneering research into the relationship between social business and health improvement.
In March 2012, at GCU, Professor Yunus announced the creation of a new charity, the Grameen Scotland Foundation. The cornerstone of a microfinance system based in Glasgow, the Foundation reached its £1million loan funding target less than six months later, and is now preparing to make its first loans to help alleviate economic, health and social inequalities in some of Scotland’s disadvantaged communities.