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BusinessWeek Selects Muhammad Amongst the Greatest Entrepreneurs of All Times

Who are the greatest entrepreneurs of all time? We could spend a lifetime compiling a list without ever agreeing on who deserves a mention. From the pirates of Silicon Valley, to the captains of industry, there are far too many figures to choose from, to give anyone the final say.

In other words, we acknowledge our list's inherent subjectivity. To compile it, we picked the brains of professors, authors, and BusinessWeek staffers. Our criteria for entrepreneurs to be considered among the greatest was simple. If they had the vision to create new markets or tap into underserved markets, changing the way people lived in the process, then they were candidates on a list that we whittled down to 30 players.

More Than Just Wealth

Some founders won recognition not just for their companies' success, but for what they did with the wealth they accumulated. For Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and Bill Gates made the top of his list. "Look at entrepreneurs who had a profound impact that goes beyond just raw business success, as we often define it on Wall Street," says Cornwall, whose The Good Entrepreneur (Regal), will be published next year. "The great ones to me are the ones that understood they were building more than just that wealth."

Many of the pioneers we chose also created businesses that in turn encouraged others to start their own enterprises. Microloans from Muhammad' Grameen Bank have helped thousands of poor Bangladeshi women lift themselves from destitution (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/13/06, "What the Nobel Means for Microcredit").

by John Tozzi,
An intern for BusinessWeek.com.


Grameen-Commonwealth International Dialogue Program

The 51st Grameen International Dialogue Program was held on April 7-18, 2007, in Dhaka. This dialogue was a special one as it was jointly organized by Grameen Bank, Grameen Trust and the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was the seventh such Grameen-Commonwealth Dialogue, to take place at Grameen Bank.

The program witnessed an interesting gathering of participants hailing from far corners of the world, e.g. Republic of Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Srilanka, Uganda, Namibia, Pakistan, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, India, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Cameroon, Indonesia. The 22 participants represented government organizations, ministries, development banks and potential Grameen replicators. They were all interested in either implementing or supporting microcredit through their organizations or developing government policies to facilitate the new microcredit initiatives in their countries. Since many participants have been involved in microcredit policy making in their countries, but have not seen how the Grameen system works practically, the program gave them a chance to compare and contrast their own experiences at home with that of Grameen at the field level.

Participants spent most of their time in the various branches of GB located in the rural of Bangladesh. They experienced how the Grameen system works step by step, by observing center meetings, group formation, loan supervision, accounting methods and management information systems. They also had a better grasp of the Grameen Generalised System (GGS), and examined different financial products such as the Loan Insurance Scheme, Grameen Pension fund, Struggling Member Program etc. There was a chance for them to interact with the Grameen family members directly by visiting their homes, their businesses, and listening to their inspirational stories of fight against poverty with micro-loans. Furthermore, they had an opportunity to interview the Grameen field staff, including Zonal Managers, Bank Managers and Center Managers.

On their return from field visits, the participants engaged in intensive discussions with senior staff at Grameen Bank head office to fully understand the mechanics of Grameencredit, as well as sharing their field experience. As a final part of their exercise, the participants proposed action plans on how to implement or support microcredit programs once they return home, based on the immersion experience they had during their stay in rural Bangladesh.

Report by Mir Hossain Chowdhury,
Grameen Trust