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Syn: microfinance. A method of enhancing quality of life and improving health for people living in extreme poverty, by providing very small interest‐free or very low interest loans to enable them to start a small, local enterprise. This began with an initiative in Bangladesh by the economist and banker Muhammad Yunis (b. 1940) of the Grameen Bank during a severe famine. Yunis lent a group of farmers the equivalent of US$27 to buy seed grain. Microcredit has become widespread in the Indian subcontinent and has spread to parts of Africa and Latin America. Yunis received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work, particularly for encouraging the spread of microcredit loans throughout the Indian subcontinent and Africa, where the program has perceptibly raised living standards and improved population health.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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