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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Economist Yunus Wins Peace Prize

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- The simple yet revolutionary idea of lending small sums to poor people to start businesses won Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Yunus' idea -- known today as microcredit -- has in the past three decades spread around the globe and helped hundreds of millions of people earn their way out of poverty.

Some bought dairy cows, others egg-laying hens. In recent years, money for a single mobile phone has been enough to start thriving enterprises in isolated villages without phone lines in places ranging from East Asia to West Africa.

Yunus said Saturday that his selection for the award gave fresh impetus to the war on poverty around the world and new responsibilities for him.

"It's very happy news for me and also for the nation. But it has burdened us with further responsibility," he told reporters at his home in Dhaka. "Now the war against poverty will be further intensified across the world. It will consolidate the struggle against poverty through microcredit in most of the countries."

The 65-year-old economist said he would use part of his share of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh.

"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel Committee said in its citation. "Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."

Yunus is the first Noble Prize winner from Bangladesh, a poverty-stricken nation of about 141 million people located on the Bay of Bengal.

Yunus' joy at winning the prize was shared by those his microcredit program has helped. "I can't express in words how happy I am," said Gulbadan Nesa, 40, who five years ago used 6,000 taka ($90) from Grameen to buy some chickens so she could start selling eggs. She's since taken more loans and expanded into selling building materials.

(AP, Reuters)