Can redefining humanity be Muhammad Yunus' legacy?

By Adva Saldinger, August 2015

Muhammad Yunus, co-founder and chairman of Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives. Photo by: University of Salford / CC BY

Muhammad Yunus, co-founder and chairman of Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives. Photo by: University of Salford / CC BY

Professor Muhammad Yunus has already transformed global financial systems and made his mark on development, but at 75 he’s not done yet.

What he’s working to do now, what he hopes will be his legacy, is changing what he calls an “artificial” and “distorted” construct of human beings that the world has created, Yunus, the co-founder and chairman of Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives, told Devex in an exclusive interview in Kampala, Uganda, last week.

“I hope that people will rediscover themselves — that they are not just robots to make money, that they have tremendous hunger for doing things for others,” he said. “All I’m saying is look guy, you have this inside of you — check all your pockets, somewhere it’s there.”

This way of thinking that is both empowering but also looks to the greater good must begin at a young age — both at home and in schools, he said. Children should not only be told that if they follow a certain path they’ll end up as the CEO of a big company, but they should also be told that they can be job creators and change the world rather than working for others.

That way of thinking “has to be integrated in the life process,” Yunus said. “Today I’m bringing it from the outside so it’s been difficult.”

That ideology also has to permeate the development community, which he said is still based on the idea of the limited power of human beings.

“The mold of charity because that’s the only thing they can do because either they’ll work for somebody or somebody has to feed them? I say no, nothing of the sort. They are good enough. That’s the mettle we have inside of us. We take care of us and we take care of the world — that’s what I’m for. That individual has to feel that way,” Yunus said.

The way forward is partly through social businesses, which by Yunus Social Business’ definition is a company with the sole purpose not of making a profit but of solving a social problem in a financially self-sustaining way. It is an idea and a way of addressing development issues that Yunus is advancing through his social business accelerator and is what brought him to Uganda.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and Grameen Bank founder was there to spread the message and spoke at several events where one common message emerged: Everyone is creative and has the potential to be an entrepreneur. He also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to align objectives and get the government’s support for YSB’s work in the country. And he took the opportunity to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to test out some entrepreneurial social business programs with refugees in Uganda.

Yunus wants people to be empowered but doesn’t mince words when talking about entrepreneurship and its challenges.

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t mean you sit in a baby cart and lie there,” he said. “Entrepreneurship means you overcome odds.”

Nobel Prize Winner Suggests China Introduce More Social Business To Balance Economic Development

Date of published: April 17, 2015

BRUSSELS, April 17 (Bernama) --- China could balance its economic development through fostering rural areas' potential by introducing social business and Internet technology, Nobel Prize 2006 winner Muhammad Yunus said.

"In China, there is a problem of youth migration from rural areas to urban areas. The pull factor of the attractive income draws the workers from rural areas to urban areas. As a result, the rural economy is suffering from a shortage of workers," Yunus told China's Xinhua news agency in an exclusive interview.

Yunus is known as the father of microcredit, having won the prestigious Nobel Prize in 2006 for pioneering the concept of microfinance wherein people too poor to be granted loans at a traditional bank have access to capital.

Giving suggestions to China and emerging market countries, Yunus explained it was necessary to create many kinds of enterprises within rural areas, bringing franchising, outsourcing from the urban areas to rural ones.

Yunus suggested policy-makers set up social business funds in rural areas so people can have a decent salary there. He said this financial approach -- setting up social business financial institutions -- was the best methodology to support local economic development.

"We must make sure that these institutions are available so people can turn around and start their own creative power," Yunus said.

Yunus called social business financial institutions in rural areas the best methodology to support local economic development.

Yunus noted that attention has to be given to the financial systems and also designing social businesses in the rural areas.

"We need to re-design the financial service completely. There is a large number, almost half of the population in the entire world, that are not reached by financial institutions. We need to address them. Rural areas deserve special attention because most people in emerging countries live in rural areas."

He emphasised that it was essential financial services were designed in such a way that people's problems are solved, and likewise that these services should not become a big money-making enterprise for rich people.

In Yunus' view, investors or owners can gradually recoup the money invested in a social business, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. The purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, personal gain should not be the investor's aim.

Yunus stressed the importance of using technology while emerging market countries undertake economic reform, aiming at tapping creative power in rural areas.

"Because of technology, we can bring the same Internet services, telephone services, educational services to the rural areas, provided we can ensure a decent income to live a dignified life there," he added.

He also delivered the same commentary on Europe, saying European leaders should establish a social business model to address the problem of youth unemployment in the region.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2006 was awarded jointly to Yunus, who is from Bangladesh and Grameen Bank "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below."



Challenge conventional economic models

Source: The Daily Star
Date: November 28, 2014

Yunus urges entrepreneurs at Social Business Summit
Sushmita S Preetha, from Mexico City

Muhammad YunusNobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has called for collective effort at both academic and practical levels to challenge conventional economic models and create openings through social business.

Unlike established economic models, social business believes that human beings are not inherently selfish and that everyone, irrespective of their age, education and background, has the capacity to be entrepreneurs, he said.

“We have to challenge the existing well-argued thinking and establish that all young people are entrepreneurs and should not be condemned to be mere job seekers,” he said in his speech at the second Global Social Business Summit Research Conference on Tuesday.

The event, which was a curtain-raiser for the sixth Global Social Business Summit, brought together researchers in the field of social business to share their findings.

Organised since 2009 by Grameen Creative Lab and Yunus Centre, the Global Social Business Summit is now the main platform for social businesses worldwide to foster discussions, actions and collaborations to develop effective solutions to the most pressing problems plaguing the world.

Fight poverty to end modern slavery, Nobel laureate Yunus says

Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus speaks at the Trust Women conference in London November 19, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The fight against modern slavery can only succeed if poverty is rooted out and sustainable social business models are able to prevent vulnerable people from falling prey to traffickers, Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus said on Wednesday.

"A whole range of issues need to be addressed to fight trafficking: education, legal rights - but poverty is the main cause," the founder of the microcredit movement said.

"Unless you focus on poverty, no matter what you do, you can reduce trafficking a bit but it will keep going on because it's the lack of quality of life that makes people vulnerable," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the Trust Women conference in London.

TCF announces entrepreneurship awardees

Source: Arab News
Date: Wednesday 5 November 2014

ENTREPRENEURIAL AWARD: TCF Board of Directors Chairman Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, middle, who is also the Saudi deputy foreign minister, meets Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. At left is Abdulaziz H. Al-Mutairi, TCF board member and GM.The Centennial Fund (TCF) announced the winners in the 2014 Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Global Entrepreneurship Award at a glittering ceremony at the upscale Ritz-Carlton Riyadh on Monday night.

“I congratulate the winners of the awards for what they have achieved because of their creativity,” said TCF board of directors chairman Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, who is also the Saudi deputy foreign minister.

Prince Abdullaziz bin Abdullah and Abdulaziz H. Al-Mutairi, a member of the board of trustees and GM of TCF, honored award recipients on the occasion.

The prince thanked everyone who had helped to make the event as successful as it was, including Sabic and Shell, represented by Patrick Van Daele, vice president and country chairman.

Prince Abdulaziz also congratulated Muhammad Yunus, who had earlier been chosen for the 2nd Global Entrepreneurship Award (GEA-2014).

Prince Abdulaziz said that TCF was keen to serve the community and society with the holding of the entrepreneurship forum, which had been held earlier on Monday morning. He noted that it was taken part in by well-known local and foreign experts on entrepreneurship and that it was made possible with the full support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

The prince said that it was one of the TCF’s objectives and that it was significant to the national economy. He also noted the TCF’s achievements.

“I take this opportunity to thank King Abdullah for the support TCF has received to help fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the youth in this country,” said the prince.

Speaking with Arab News earlier on his behalf, Abdulaziz H. Al-Mutairi, TCF general manager and a member of the board of directors, said that Prince Abdulaziz hoped that young Saudi entrepreneurs will grow by going global.

He said that TCF would help them by give them training under its 35,000 trainers in different colleges and universities all over the Kingdom.

Khaled Alolaiwi, a young Saudi entrepreneur, lauded TCF’s plan and goal, saying that “it will go a long way in helping the Saudi economy grow.”

Alolaiwi manages Tarjamat Office, which rendered simultaneous interpretation services on the occasion.

Yunus, who introduced micro-finance in Bangladesh, also talked on the occasion, saying that he started his mission to help the poor by lending $47 dollars to 20 people.

He said that this became very successful and, as a result, many people also approached him for loans.
“I eventually went to the banks to convince them to lend money to youth and I was asked as guarantor. This was in 1976,” he told the audience.

He started Grameen Bank, which already has $8.5 billion in assets and has helped about 8.5 million families.
“Thousands of family members that received help from Grameen Bank have become successful in their chosen endeavors. Many have become doctors,” Yunus said.

He added that “there’s a big difference between the first and second generations of Grameen Bank borrowers.”
He said that he had told borrowers that they “should come up with a social business and create jobs to help solve human problems and get away from profit-making.”

“The mission should be to solve people’s problems, create social businesses and invite others to become entrepreneurs. As a result, we received several applications. In social business, no profit and loans are made available without interest,” he said.

He added, “Whatever amount we give to borrowers, they should return it without any profit for us.”

He added that society-created systems are responsible for unemployment.

“Everything should be geared toward stability,” he said.

Grameen Bank has expanded by establishing branches overseas. “We have two in Los Angeles, two in San Francisco, and one each in Boston, Nebraska, and Charlotte. Our average loan in the United States is $1,500,” he said.

He added that “What we’re doing is not a Bangladeshi phenomenon. It’s global. The first mission for an aspiring entrepreneur is to learn how to entrepreneur,” he said.

His book, “Banker to the Poor,” contains the concepts and ideas on micro-lending which Yunus espouses.

The other winners of the 2014 Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Global Entrepreneurship Award were: Amer Bukvia for best pioneer project (Bosnia Herzegonina); Muhammed Asfor, best existing project (Bahrain); Sara Al-Otaibi, best female pioneer (Saudi Arabia); Aminah Al-Hawaj, co-winner as best female pioneer; Asma Gaith, best female mentor (Egypt); Lojain Al-Jabbawi, best business plan (UAE); Abhishek Garodia, best project (United Kingdom); Tareq Mansour, best pioneer, 2nd place, Egypt; Thamer Al-Fanshuthi, best male mentor (Saudi Arabia); Khaled Al-Khodair, best existing project, 2nd place (Saudi Arabia); Nasser Muhammed Al-Jasuin, best existing project, 3rd place (UAE); Fidah Abu Turki, best female pioneer, 2nd place (Palestinian Authority); Yusuf Jamjoom, best existing plan, 2nd place (Saudi Arabia); Amal Al-Rumah, best existing project (Saudi Arabia); Ayan Aramadi, best project idea, 2nd place (Palestinian Authority); and Khaled Saed Al-Zahrani, best project idea co-winner, 2nd place (Saudi Arabia). tellyseries