The Grameen Bank is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning microfinance organization and community development bank founded in Bangladesh. It makes small loans to the impoverished without requiring collateral. The name Grameen is derived from the word gram which means "rural" or "village" in the Bengali language.
Micro-credit loans are based on the concept that the poor have skills that are under-utilized and, with incentive, they can earn more money. A group-based credit approach is applied to use peer-pressure within a group to ensure the borrowers follow through and conduct their financial affairs with discipline, ensuring repayment and allowing the borrowers to develop good credit standing. The bank also accepts deposits, provides other services, and runs several development-oriented businesses including fabric, telephone and energy companies. The bank's credit policy to support under-served populations has led to the overwhelming majority of its borrowers being women.
Grameen Bank originated in 1976, in the work of Professor Muhammad Yunus, professor at University of Chittagong, who launched a research project to study how to design a credit delivery system to provide banking services to the rural poor. Based on his positive results, in October 1983 the Grameen Bank was authorized by national legislation as an independent bank. In 2006, the bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1998 the Bank's "Low-cost Housing Program" won a World Habitat Award. In 2011, the Bangladesh Government forced Muhammad Yunus to resign from Grameen Bank, saying that at age 72, he was years beyond the legal limit for the position.