The Grameen Bank (Bengali: গ্রামীণ বাংক) is a microfinance organization and community development bank started in Bangladesh that makes small loans (known as microcredit or "grameencredit") to the impoverished without requiring collateral. The word "Grameen" is derived from the word "gram" and means "rural" or "village" in Bangla language .
The system of this bank is based on the idea that the poor have skills that are under-utilized. A group-based credit approach is applied which utilizes the peer-pressure within the group to ensure the borrowers follow through and use caution in conducting their financial affairs with strict discipline, ensuring repayment eventually and allowing the borrowers to develop good credit standing. The bank also accepts deposits, provides other services, and runs several development-oriented businesses including fabric, telephone and energy companies. Another distinctive feature of the bank's credit program is that the overwhelming majority (98%) of its borrowers are women.
The origin of Grameen Bank can be traced back to 1976 when Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Fulbright scholar at Vanderbilt University and Professor at University of Chittagong, launched a research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted to the rural poor. In October 1983, the Grameen Bank Project was transformed into an independent bank by government legislation. The organization and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006; the organization’s Low-cost Housing Programmer won a World Habitat Award in 1998.