SOURCE: Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation

August 12, 2009 11:19 ET

Muhammad Yunus Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Will Receive America's Highest Civilian Honor

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - August 12, 2009) - Grameen Foundation is celebrating Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus being awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and member emeritus of Grameen Foundation's board of directors, will receive his medal from President Barack Obama today at a special White House ceremony.

In announcing this year's recipients, President Obama said, "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds... Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."

Professor Yunus is one of 16 recipients who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Mary Robinson, former prime minster of Ireland; Senator Ted Kennedy; Justice Sandra Day O'Conner; and Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery.

"Professor Muhammad Yunus' unwavering belief in the power of poor people to help themselves escape poverty is an inspiration to all of us. Thirty-three years after he began working with and financing the entrepreneurial initiative of poor people outside his university classroom in his native Bangladesh, his challenge to all of us remains working to root out poverty wherever it exists," said Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation. "His leadership and advocacy have helped create a groundswell that has opened up microfinance to more than 150 million poor families around the world. I had the privilege of working with Professor Yunus in Bangladesh for six years and I am especially gratified that he is being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his unprecedented accomplishments."

Counts, who began his career in microfinance at Grameen Bank under Professor Yunus, will be among the special guests attending today's ceremony. He and a group of friends started Grameen Foundation in 1997 with a $6,000 loan from Professor Yunus who also became a founding member of the organization's board of directors.

Deemed the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom honors those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States or to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Past recipients include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr.

About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world's poorest people access financial services and technology solutions by providing financing, technology support and management strategies to the local organizations that serve them. It also spearheads technology initiatives that create new microbusiness opportunities for the poor, provide telecommunications access for the world's rural poor, and improve their access to health and agriculture information and other services. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, D.C. and Seattle, Washington. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is a founding member of its board of directors and served on the board for 12 years. Since April 2009, he has served as Grameen Foundation's first director emeritus. For more information, please visit

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