DHAKA, (Reuters) – Nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh said on Saturday his selection for the award gives fresh impetus against the war on poverty around the world and new responsibilities for him.
“It’s very happy news for me and also for the nation. But it has burdened us with further responsibility,” he told reporters at his home in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
“Now the war against poverty will be further intensified across the world. It will consolidate the struggle against poverty through microcredit in most of the countries.”
“There should be no poverty, anywhere.”
Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty that earned him the nickname “banker to the poor”.
In a country born in 1971 after a war of independence and with much of its history strewn with coups and natural disasters, some hoped the Nobel Peace Prize — the first in any category for a Bangladeshi — would help usher in a less troubled future.
Yunus, 66, set up a new kind of bank in 1976 to lend to the very poorest in his native Bangladesh, particularly women, enabling them to start up small businesses without collateral.
In doing so, he pioneered microcredit, a system copied in more than 100 nations from the United States to Uganda.
“A wonderful celebration is going on over the success of Bangladesh at the recognition of the country’s efforts to eradicate poverty,” Yunus said, after laying wreaths at a memorial in the capital, Dhaka.
“This is a symbol of our history of struggle, which encouraged us to go ahead fighting all odds,” said Yunus, thronged by hundreds of his joyful admirers.
“We come here (to the memorial) to express our happiness, joy in success, and also sadness when hurt. It gives us inspiration to go forward,” Yunus told reporters.
Later on Saturday, Yunus will visit another national memorial dedicated to the heros of the 1971 war of independence in Dhaka’s northern suburbs. He is also expected to speak at a news conference in Dhaka in the afternoon.