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The Bangladeshi banker who established the practice of making small, unsecured loans to the very poor, has warned that the globalised economy is becoming a dangerous “free-for-all highway”.“Its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies,” Muhammad Yunus said as he was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Sunday. “Bangladeshi rickshaws will be thrown off the highway.”
While international companies motivated by profit may be crucial in addressing global poverty, Dr Yunus said, nations must also cultivate grassroots enterprises and the human impulse to do good.
Glorification of the entrepreneurial spirit has led to “one-dimensional human beings” motivated only by profit, he said.
He then took a direct jab at the US “war on terror”. He said recent American military adventures had diverted global resources and attention from a more pressing project: halving worldwide poverty by 2015, as envisaged by the United Nations six years ago.
“Never in human history had such a bold goal been adopted by the entire world in one voice, one that specified time and size,” he said. “But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream.”
Dr Yunus, 66, said terrorism could not be defeated militarily.
He called for legal recognition of a new category of corporation that would be neither profit-maximising nor non-profit. It would be a “social business,” such as Grameen Bank, the Dhaka-based micro-credit institution he started 30 years ago and with which he shared the Nobel Prize.