Nobel Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus will launch Scotland's first Grameen Bank next year.
The micro-lending system, which has helped lift millions of people out of poverty worldwide, will open with £500,000 from Tesco Bank.
The supermarket bank will also offer savings facilities and business support for aspiring entrepreneurs to start businesses in some of Scotland's most deprived communities.
Professor Yunus, Grameen Bank Founder and Glasgow Caledonian University chancellor, said: "I'm not saying change all business – I say give people an option. Poor people need to be given the right opportunities to be able to succeed in their own lives and this is what Grameen helps them to do.
"We must encourage people to envision their own futures and once that is done find out how to get there – once a person has a vision, it can be made real, and this is what the Gram-een Scotland Foundation will work to achieve."
Professor Yunus set up the Grameen micro-lending model in his native Bangladesh in 1983 when he established the Grameen Bank.
The then university lecturer gave $27 of his own money to 42 workers who were in debt to loan sharks.
The loans, which were secured by agreeing social contracts, saved the workers from high interest repay-ments, which allowed them to better support their families. The borrowers repaid all the loans in full.
The Grameen Scotland Foundation, a charitable body run by a board of trustees, will oversee the running of the lending operation in Scotland.
The Foundation has already attracted backing from the Scottish Govern-ment, which has donated £100,000, and supporters such as Stagecoach businesswoman Ann Gloag, who has also given £100,000.
Bosses are also in talks with the European Investment Fund and the bank is expected to exceed its initial funding target of £1million in its first year.
Professor Yunus, Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins, principal of GCU Professor Pamela Gillies, and Martin Cheyne, chairman of the Foundation, announced the new bank at a ceremony at the univer-sity yesterday.
Professor Gillies, who is also Grameen Scotland Foundation trustee, said: "Although microcredit and community banking has been available in Scotland for many years, it has not been able to break through the deep-rooted economic and social inequalities and persistent poverty which affects too many individ-uals, families and commun-ities in parts of the UK.
"The success of the Grameen system in other parts of the world, includ-ing the USA, demonstrates that this community-centred approach can make an important contribution to improving not just the economic and social well-being but also the health of those who have the very least in society."
Tesco Bank will provide basic savings accounts to Grameen borrowers as well as business advice and advertising space in local Tesco stores.
Mr Higgins added: "I am delighted that Tesco Bank can support Grameen's expansion into the UK with the launch of Grameen in Scotland.
"At Tesco Bank, we aim to play an active role in the communities we operate in, helping to provide opportunities and support to those who need it most.
"In partnering Grameen in Scotland, we will provide loan funding, professional guidance from our staff and access to our stores to help set up businesses which can improve the local economy."
Professor Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the bank's anti-poverty work. It now operates in 38 countries – with similar models functioning in around 60 more – and has made more than 100 million loans.
The announcement of the launch of the Grameen system in Scotland coincides with the install-ation of Professor Yunus as chancellor of GCU at a ceremony today.
The initial Grameen pilot scheme will serve Glasgow, North Ayrshire, West Dun-bartonshire and Inverclyde, four of Scotland's five most deprived communities.
The Foundation will also recruit a chief executive officer and plans to raise £3m in five years.
Dr Cheyne said: "Prof-essor Yunus has already demonstrated that this model of microfinance works in many different economies.
"It is about more than simply money – Grameen can lift people out of unemployment, improve health and give families a real opportunity to be independent.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tesco Bank, and the many other individuals and organisations who have supported us in bringing this unique social innovation to the UK and Europe for the first time."