Muhammad Yunus at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway
Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank, for their efforts to create economic and social development. In the prize announcement The Norwegian Nobel Committee mentioned:
Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty.
Yunus was the first Bangladeshi to ever get a Nobel Prize. After receiving the news of the important award, Yunus announced that he would use part of his share of the $1.4 million award money to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor; while the rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton was a vocal advocate for the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Yunus. He expressed this in Rolling Stone magazine as well as in his autobiography My Life. In a speech given at University of California, Berkeley in 2002, President Clinton described Yunus as "a man who long ago should have won the Nobel Prize [and] I’ll keep saying that until they finally give it to him." Conversely, The Economist stated explicitly that Yunus was a poor choice for the award, stating: "...the Nobel committee could have made a braver, more difficult, choice by declaring that there would be no recipient at all."
He is one of only seven persons to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. Other notable awards include the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1984, the World Food Prize, the International Simon Bolivar Prize (1996), the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord and the Sydney Peace Prize in 1998, and the Seoul Peace Prize in 2006. Additionally, Yunus has been awarded 50 honorary doctorate degrees from universities across 20 countries, and 113 international awards from 26 different countries including state honours from 10 countries. Bangladesh government brought out a commemorative stamp to honour his Nobel Award.