Aug. 19, 2010 — The SolarWorld Einstein Award 2010 will be presented to Muhammad Yunus at the 25th European Photovoltaic Conference in Valencia, Spain, on Sept. 6, 2010.
The professor of economics from Bangladesh and founder of the Grameen Bank will receive the award in recognition of his breakthrough concept of micro-loans for the poor, which have helped millions of people worldwide to escape poverty. The micro-loans have, among other things, made possible installations of more than 400,000 small solar power systems, securing energy supplies for people in rural regions of Bangladesh who live far from the national utility grid.
The nonprofit company Grameen Shakti (GS) is such a social business, which since its founding in 1996 has dedicated itself to providing energy to off-grid rural regions of Bangladesh. With help from micro-loans, program recipients can obtain small off-grid solar power plants. This clean energy enables regional residents to work after dark, learn more in school and operate electric machines, radios and mobile phones.
Thousands of women were trained in the installation and maintenance of these solar plants, providing them with reliable income. Due to savings on kerosene costs, solar plant owners can pay back the loans within two to three years. GS is pursuing the objective of installing 1 million solar power systems by the year 2015.
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