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Nobel Laureate's Work Gives Hope for UN Millennium Development Goals

  • Sean Maroney

This year's Nobel Peace Prize winners, Muhammad Yunus and his Bangladesh bank, have lifted millions of people out of poverty with microfinancing. This concept of giving small loans to those too poor to qualify for traditional credit has the international community expressing its support.

Muhammad Yunus, known as the "banker to the poor," has received the top Nobel honor for handing out small loans to help those in desperate poverty begin income-generating projects. In Friday's press conference, a United Nations spokesman expressed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's support for Yunus and his bank's policies.

"They have provided a powerful weapon to help the world reach the Millennium Development Goals, by helping people change their lives for the better, especially those who need it most," he said.

The eight Millennium Development Goals range from cutting extreme poverty in half to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS all by 2015. Yunus' foundation has a network of partners in 22 countries in order to help assist the poor in Africa, the Americas and in the Middle East.

World Bank Director Elizabeth Littlefield is the CEO of SE-GAP, a global organization for the microfinance industry. She says Yunus and his bank's work has a direct connection to world peace. "Promoting social inclusion as part of a conflict prevention strategy, means making sure that all poor people have opportunities for gainful employment, are hopeful about their future and have reasons to be comfortable that they're able to take care of their families."

Littlefield says this policy of microfinancing in the end can improve other areas of the Millennium Development Goals, such as improved health and greater rights for women.

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