Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nobel Laureate Expands Poverty-Fighting Initiative to Southeast Asia

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus, the man who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering microcredit programs, has partnered with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in launching a research institution in Thailand focused on poverty reduction in Southeast Asia.

The institution, called the Yunus Center, "will research ways for rural people to improve their situation through their own agriculture-related business," according to VOA News. Along with building on poverty reduction programs AIT already has in place, the Yunus Center will not only conduct research but provide education and skill-building for local people. In order to have a broader reach across the region, the Center will also work with AIT's satellite locations in Vietnam and Indonesia.

"The vision of the Yunus Center at AIT is to provide an environment unfettered by constraints of academic traditions in order to think afresh about the needs of society and to develop innovative new models to serve it," AIT vice president Peter Haddawy said at the official launch on Wednesday.

Establishing this center is Yunus' first expansion of his anti-poverty work outside Bangladesh, where he established a bank offering microcredit loans to the poor and for which he earned a Nobel Peace Prize.

--Hannah Calkins