You can't get a Nobel prize for starting a bank, can you?

XL USA with Muhammad Yunus
Eric and Elise meet Dr Yunus

You can if that bank proceeds to attract 7.2 million families, provide them with micro-loans, homes and education. You certainly can if you help millions of people lift themselves out of poverty.

This morning, at the behest of Jeanine “J.P.” Parker, we attended a talk by Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica. It was inspirational, humorous and powerful.

Dr. Yunus, very well known for his work in Micro-finance in his home country of Bangladesh, spoke for around forty-five minutes about his experiences and his ideas for the future.

He told us that what started as a $27 loan to impoverished people in need turned into the Grameen Bank — now serving over 7.2 million families. He also told us about other projects and initiatives they have undertaken including the provision of clean water for those in need, mobile phones for communities that have to wait three to four years for a landline and home loans. Perhaps most impressive of the bank’s extra curricular activities is their education program; they now have over 21,000 students undertaking education that may otherwise never have had the chance.

After his talk, Dr. Yunus fielded a variety of questions about his projects and how they might be applied to America. In answering one of his questions he suggested that a stock exchange for social companies would be useful and that it was definitely time for a magazine for social enterprise. When I showed him XL Magazine — and asked him to sign the front cover showing his face — he asked for his own copy and a few extras that Irene Millar happily provided.

Dr. Yunus was inspiring, empowering and highly entertaining — we were lucky to be there.