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Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
Industry: Economics
Title: Founder
Organization: Grameen Bank

Credit this Bangladeshi financier for essentially revolutionizing the banking systems in many third-world countries with the concept of microfinance. The financing mechanism enables low-income individuals with little-to-no financial resources to start up businesses and other ventures by lending them small amounts of money.

Yunus founded the Bangladesh-based microfinance organization, Grameen Bank, in 1976, and since then, the bank's 2,564 branches have lent over $9 billion to 8.1 million borrowers in over 10,000 villages, 97% of whom are women. In fact, approximately 97% of Bangladeshi villages receive aid through Dr.Yunus' revolutionary brainchild.

In 2006, the Norwegian Nobel Committee selected Yunus to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and more recently in 2009, President Barack Obama honored Yunus with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

NEXT: Rikin Gandhi
Last updated June 17 2010: 5:11 PM ET