In 2004 a panel of judges from Wharton School of Business in USA joined with Nightly Business Report, a popular daily business program on US television, to name 'The 25 Most influential Business Persons of the Past 25 Years'. Among this prestigious list was Prof. Yunus. He was the only Asian to be featured in the list, which included Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple & Pixar), Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Sam Walton (Wal-Mart), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo), Frederick Smith (FedEx), Ted Turner (Turner Broadcasting), and Richard Branson (Virgin), among others.
All the winners were featured in a book entitled "Lasting Leadership: Lessons from the 25 Most Influential Business People of Our Times, co-authored by Knowledge@Wharton and Nightly Business Report.
I was very surprised. I didn't think I was at that level. These are the people who are admired all over the world, who have accomplished so much.
Seeing that I was one of the 25, I was really inspired and overwhelmed. But in a way, if I look back, this is recognition of the importance of financial services to the poorest people. This is what you recognized. Today, if you look at financial systems around the globe, more than half the population of the world — out of six billion people, more than three billion — do not qualify to take out a loan from a bank. This is a shame. What kind of institutions have we built that cannot afford to extend their services to the majority of the people?
In 2006 not only did Prof. Yunus win the Nobel Peace Prize but TIME Magazine also ranked him as one of the top 12 business leaders, including him among "60 years of Asian Heroes" http://content.time.com/time/magazine/asia/0,9263,501061113,00.html.
The most tumultuous decades of the most populous continent on earth have produced an astonishing array of heroes. During the 60 years since TIME began publishing an Asian edition, it has been our privilege to encounter the most exceptional of them?on the campaign trail and the battlefield, in the boardroom and the research lab, on the factory floor and the film set. In following these remarkable individuals, we have told the story of Asia's transformation from poverty to powerhouse, from imitator to imitated, from being colonized to leading the global economy into a new era.
Two years later, the 68-year-old was voted 2nd on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals in an open online poll conducted by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (United States).
Over half a million people voted in the poll http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/100-top-public-intellectuals to find the the world's top public intellectual. The result was published in the July 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine. Prof. Yunus was beaten to the top position by Fethullah Gulen, a renowned Turkish scholar. Among the notaries who were below Prof. Yunus, and outside the top 10 ranking, were Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Amartya Sen, and Pope Benedict XVI.
In 2010 The New Statesman (UK) listed him as one of "The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures".
In the 9 April 2012 issue of Fortune Magazine Prof. Yunus was featured as one of the "12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time" http://archive.fortune.com/galleries/2012/news/companies/1203/gallery.greatest-entrepreneurs.fortune/13.html. He was the only social entrepreneur named in the list. He was also the only other Asian along with Narayana Murthy of Infosys.
For people living on pennies a day, just a few dollars could transform their lives - and in many cases it did. The gift was used to support and expand these very small businesses, and that helped many overcome their poverty. Much to Yunus' surprise, the basket weavers actually paid off the loans - and on time too. He then moved from one village to the next, finding all sorts of entrepreneurial projects to fund.
While the bank could not eradicate poverty, it lifted many lives. No less critical, Yunus' idea inspired countless numbers of young people to devote themselves to social causes all over the world.
Muhammad Yunus appeared in the second episode of "Loan-a Lisa" The Simpsons' twenty-second season. The episode aired October 3, 2010. It guest starred Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and Chris Hansen (USA TV personality).
Lisa decides to donate her $50 to charity, but an online introduction to microfinance and a video from Muhammad Yunus prompt her to use the money to support a local business instead.He guest stars as himself in the episode "Loan-a Lisa".