Over the next year, all of the women paid Yunus back.
And that was the start of the Grameen Bank.
Today, the Grameen Bank loans money to over 6 million people.
97 percent of them are women.
Grameen means “village” in the Bengali language.
Many people in Bangladesh live in rural villages outside of cities.
These people are some of the poorest of the poor.
Many of them work hard every day just to survive.
They have no extra money.
And because rural Bangladeshis have no money, many banks will not give them loans.
Except for Grameen Bank.
Grameen loves to give loans to poor Bangladeshis.
The people at Grameen believe that giving loans to poor people is a great idea.
So, not only does Grameen offer loans to the poor, but they most often give loans to poor women.
Women can use the loans to help their families.
Grameen Bank believes that loans can help women and their families get out of poverty.
Grameen Bank is a microfinance bank.
Microfinancing works like this.
A person can go to the bank with a business idea.
She can ask the bank for a small loan, usually under one hundred dollars.
She can use that money to start her small business.
She buys all the materials that she needs.
When she sells her goods, she can keep all of the money.
When she has made enough money, she can repay the bank and still have money left.
With this money she can continue the business on her own.
People who use the loans must pay a little interest.
Having to pay interest helps people make wise money decisions.
It makes them work hard to repay the bank.
And, the interest helps the bank give more and more people loans.