Yunus to Speak at President’s Breakfast

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer in using microcredit to end poverty, will speak at the ninth annual Westmont President’s Breakfast Friday, Feb. 28, from 7-9 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. Yunus is the first person since Martin Luther King Jr. to achieve the trifecta of the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal and the U.S. Congressional Medal. Tickets cost $125 per person and go on sale Friday, Jan. 31, at the Westmont website. Seating is limited, and tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Driven by the idea that credit is a basic human right, Yunus founded Grameen Bank in 1976 to make fair loans to the poor. Over the years, the bank has lent to more than 8.4 million borrowers, helping them gain a better quality of life. More than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on Grameen’s model.

Yunus earned a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University and became a professor in the 1970s. However, he struggled to reconcile economic theory with the misery he saw in Bangladesh.

“Muhammad Yunus set out to help one poor person a day and developed a sustainable way to empower the poorest of the poor,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “Microfinance continues to transform the lives of millions of people in Third World countries. Yunus embodies what we encourage our students to become: people who use their education and creativity to make a difference in the world.”

Yunus accepted the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship last fall, saying, “You give people a chance, they bring out their own ability.” According to Forbes online, “A room of billionaires stood for the son of poor Bangladeshi peasants and cheered wildly.”

The Westmont Foundation and local businesses sponsor the President’s Breakfast to promote discussion of significant issues in the community. This year’s lead sponsor is Union Bank. Gold sponsors include Axia, Chronicle Family Offices, Davies, Hub International, La Arcada, Lindsay and Laurie Parton, Matt Construction, Northern Trust and V3 Corporation, with special thanks to Rabobank. Noozhawk is the media sponsor. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Steve Baker, Westmont associate vice president for advancement, at (805) 565-7156.

Past Westmont President’s Breakfast speakers include: Retired Gen. Colin Powell; Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state; Robert Gates, former secretary of defense, Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN; Thomas Friedman, author of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” and “The World is Flat”; and American historian and bestselling author David McCullough, who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize.