Yunus is also the founder of Grameen Bank. Grameen, which means “Bank of the villages”, was started to provide small loans (known as microcredit) to the impoverished without requiring collateral. The system is based on the idea that the poor have skills that are under-utilized.
One unusual feature of the Grameen Bank is that it is owned by the poor borrowers of the bank, most of whom are women. Of the total equity of the bank, the borrowers own 94%, and the remaining 6% is owned by the Government of Bangladesh. Some other facts about the bank, as of August 2006 are:
Total number of borrowers is 6.61 million, and 97% of those are women (3,123,802 members in 2003
The Bank has 2,226 branches, covering 71,371 villages, with a total staff of 18,795. (43,681 villages in 2003
Loan recovery rate is 98.85% (repayment rate was 95% in 1998)
Since inception, total loans distributed amounts to Tk 290.03 billion (US$ 5.72 billion). Out of this, Tk 258.16 billion (US$ 5.07 billion) has been repaid.