Denmark turns to social business

Denmark has hosted a daylong conference on the social business concept of Prof Muhammad Yunus to find answers to some of the problems the Scandinavian country faces.

The Danish foreign ministry in cooperation with the Confederation of Danish Industries organised the conference in Copenhagen on Monday where the Nobel laureate was the chief guest.

Christian Friis Bach, Denmark's minister for development cooperation, hosted the conference, which was also attended by Crown Princess Mary, according to a statement of the Yunus Centre in Dhaka.

The conference was inspired by Professor Yunus' concept of social business. Sessions were dedicated to discuss ways for social business to be used as a tool by the Danish government to solve problems in the country, and through the Danish government's overseas development programmes, in other countries.

The founder of Grameen Bank gave two keynote addresses and took questions from the audience throughout the day.

Dr Yunus narrated his experiences in setting up social businesses in Bangladesh, Haiti, Albania, Germany, France, Japan, Togo, Brazil, Colombia, Nepal, India, Tunisia and other countries.

The Banker to the Poor also gave proposals of how Denmark could use the social business concept to address social challenges within the country, such as social exclusion and youth unemployment.

Over 150 guests, including top government officials, politicians and chief executives of corporate houses, took part in the conference.

The participants jointly identified top priorities for social business in development cooperation and social policy, according to the statement.

Published on Friday, February 1, 2013

Professor Muhammad Yunus Launched Social Business in Albania

Professor Muhammad Yunus signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a Vocational Training Social Business Joint Venture with Tirana Business Park (an Albanian investment of the German company Lindner Group) in his first day visit on 21 January 2013 of his three day visits. The ceremony was held at the Tirana Business Park construction site in Albania, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha. The vocational training centre will provide much-in-demand technical skills to unemployed young people. The centre will initially train new plumbers, electricians and industrial mechanics, with more subjects being added in later years. The school will be sited on the Tirana Business Park campus and will draw on the vast knowledge and expertise of these professions within Tirana Business Park sh.p.k. and its German parent company.

Professor Muhammad Yunus started his three-day visit to Albania by meeting women from two handicraft workshops in the northern Shkodra region. Prof. Yunus met goat milk producer Mr. ToninKoleci and local “slow food” restaurant entrepreneur Mr. AltinPrenga.

On 22ndJanuary 2013, Prof. Muhammad Yunus attended at Albania Social Business Day as a guest of honour. Prime Minister of Albania, H.E. SaliBerisha, as well as several other distinguished members of the government, including the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mr. Spiro Ksera, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ridvan Bode;the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. GencRuli; andthe Minister of Education, Mr. MyqeremTafaj also attended in the program.

Then Prof. Muhammad Yunus signed another Memorandum of Understandings with eight universities in Albania on behalf of Yunus Social Business. The universities are- the University of Tirana, the Agriculture University of Tirana, Epoka University,the European University of Tirana, Elbasan University, Korce University, the University of New York in Tirana and Tirana Business University. The MoUs pledged a joint effort to include social business theory and practice in teaching, mainstreaming the idea of social business into research, and other joint activities. He also signed MoUs with UNDP and UN Women, and with AIDA, the Albanian Investment Development Agency, to promote the concept of social business and to collaborate in creating programmes for the support of social businesses.

Professor Muhammad Yunus Addressed at 3rd Indian Student Parliament in MIT, Pune and 3rd TECHELONS in Nagpur, India

Indian Student Parliament PuneNobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus addressed at 3rd Indian Student Parliament on 12 January, 2013 as a main speaker. The event was jointly organized by the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Government and Education Ministry of India. The 3-day conclave of Indian Student Parliament began on 10 January of this month at Pune, India and culminated on 12th January 2013. As many as 12,000 student leaders from all over India participated in the program.

While speaking in the session on Poverty: A Great Terror? Professor Muhammad Yunus extended greetings from Bangladesh, particularly from the youth of Bangladesh. He urged the Indian youth to create their own politics with a new vision for new generation by saying that don't remain under the spell of traditional politics, look to the future, world is changing very fast and the youth have to redesign the institutions to face the new challenge.

He also said that the Indian youth should not think only about India, they should think about all the youth of SAARC countries and urged the Student Parliament organizers to invite students of SAARC countries from next year. This interaction will help us to solve many problems of the SAARC countries and the world. Not knowing something is not always bad. It may be possible that since your mind has not been biased by the established knowledge, it gives you the freedom to think of fresh ideas, he added in his speech.

While talking about poverty he said that poverty is not created by the poor. It is not their fault. Poverty is created by the system, the policies and certain institutions. Schools teach Biology, Physics and History, but they fail to teach us anything about ourselves and our aspirations.

Fourteen National Student wings President of Indian main stream political parties like Congress, BJP, CPM, Jatio Somajbadi Party, VHP etc have been awarded for their contribution in youth leadership and they took crest from the hand of Professor Muhammad Yunus. Dr. Mohan Dharia renowned Indian Freedom Fighter thanked Professor Yunus for his inspiring speech and urged the students to follow his advice to reach the ultimate goal of the students.

Hon. Mr. Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister, State of Jammu & Jashmir, Mr. Nitish Kumar, Honorable Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad MP Rajya Sabha, Ms. Shabana Azmi, Social Activist and Mr. Subash Ghai well known film personality, Mr. Rajib Bajaj, managing director of  Bajaj Auto, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar MP, Rajya Sabha also spoke on that occasion. Prof. Yunus have been invited to speak on this occasion by the Government of Maharashtra.

Later Professor Yunus went to Nagpur to address at the 3rd TECHELONS....Step to pioneer-2013 event jointly organized by PR Pote (Patil) Education & Engineering Institute, Amravati and Department of Science and Technology, Government of India which is started at 12 January and will end at 14 January. TECHELONS is now an important annual event in the educational world in India. It provides an opportunity to beautiful minds for creativity and innovation to build knowledge based society with multiple opportunities. The event is organized every year with an objective to provide a platform to budding beautiful minds to exhibit the talent, technical skills to enrich their competency, to lead the world in the knowledge based 21st century. As a keynote speaker of the event Professor Yunus addressed to over 10,000 student micro finance borrowers. In his speech Professor Yunus said that the youth should not look for his job only. They should have a vision to create job for others. Human being is not a money making machine. Solving problem through Social business should be the aim of the youth. He also shares his experience with a large number of microfinance borrowers who were invited to meet him on the occasion. Some other prominent persons from govt. and non-govt. organizations also addressed in the program.

Grameen Shakti lights up rural backwaters- installs more than one million solar home systems

Prof Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Shakti team were showered with praises from people of all strata for installing more than one million solar home systems across the country.

Economists, academics, development partners and diplomats also urged the Nobel laureate to move on to greater heights by lighting up the rural Bangladesh and transforming lives.

Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus speaks at a programme organised at Radisson
Hotel in Dhaka yesterday to celebrate the installation of one million solar home
systems by Grameen Shakti.Photo: STAR

The acclaim came at an event, which was organised to celebrate the milestone set by Grameen Shakti.

Speaking at the programme at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka, Ellen Goldstein, country director of the World Bank, said this is an impressive achievement.

“When the programme was initiated, the target was only 500,000 solar home systems in five years. Now the partners are installing 60,000 systems per month.”

“This is an astonishing achievement and sounds something in the science fiction. This is a perfect example of a well-structured public-private partnership under a well-managed financing system.”

She said the World Bank spent $400 million globally to promote renewable energy in the first phase of the plan, and plans to spend another $150 million alone this year in the second phase.

The WB will support Bangladesh to move to a higher level like mini-grid and solar irrigation, Goldstein said.

The solar home systems are 100 percent Bangladeshi and operated by the local people, she said.

“These have created opportunity for the rural population to buy electricity at affordable prices. The system has transformational effect on the lives of the children.”

Hossain Zillur Rahman, a former caretaker government adviser, saluted Prof Yunus and his team for taking solar electricity to millions of people living in rural areas, instead of a few rich.

Ainun Nishat, vice chancellor of BRAC University, said the future would be in renewable energy and solar energy is coming in a big way.

“At the international level, it is said that 'Think globally, Act locally'. We are proud that Grameen Shakti has acted locally to take lights to people,” he said.

The solar panels have empowered people, he said. “Now young girls and boys in the villages have access to information."

Rezwan Khan, vice chancellor of United International University in Bangladesh, said time has come to go beyond solar home system to solar irrigation and other areas.

Mahmud Malik, chief executive officer of Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL), thanked the development partners and the government for helping the country achieve its solar home system target before the deadline.

Dr Yunus, chairman of Grameen Shakti, said when the target was set five years ago, it seemed an impossible task.

“Finally, we have made it.”

He reminded the audience of the very tough beginning of the project: “We began 16 years back when panel price was high and kerosene price was low,” he said.

He congratulated the officials and employees of Grameen Shakti for achieving the milestone. “It was not an easy task for them. They faced harassment, as many had thought the employees might have tried to impose something.”

“They have created trust about Grameen Shakti,” said Yunus, the founder of Nobel winning Grameen Bank.

Yunus also said, although Grameen Shakti has set a target to reach the two-million milestone within next three years, the officials and employees will be able to do so before the deadline.

Grameen Shakti is the largest single off-grid system in the world delivering solar home systems to rural people in Bangladesh since 1996.

About 50 percent population do not have access to grid electricity in Bangladesh.

The company accounts for more than 70 percent of the total solar home systems in the country.

Abser Kamal, acting managing director of Grameen Shakti, said about half of the population of the country come under darkness after sunset. They use kerosene to light their houses, which is neither healthy nor environment-friendly.

Anyone can buy a solar home system by paying a monthly amount in three years. It costs the same like one kerosene lamp for the same period.

Grameen Shakti is providing microcredits to help people buy solar home systems with a three-year monthly payment system.

“The costing is the same as a family spends on kerosene,” Kamal said.

The company is directly or indirectly helping eight million people in Bangladesh to light their homes and business units using solar power.

Grameen Shakti was established by Dr Yunus to promote renewable energy technologies to the rural people to protect environment and improve living standards simultaneously.

The initiative has already won a number of prestigious awards both at home and abroad.

As of 2012, the company has also installed 595,516 improved cooking stoves and 24,206 biogas plants.

Every solar home system unit helps cut 0.232 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Altogether, the solar home systems installed so far brought a CDM (clean development mechanism) benefit for Bangladesh at $2.32 million a year.

Bilkis Begum, who installed a solar home system at her home in Gazipur with the help of Grameen Shakti, described how the life of her family members has changed.

“My sons are now able to study at night. I also prepare products from bamboo and canes at night with five women from the area.”

“They earn Tk 2,500 a month and I earn Tk 3,500 a month from the work,” she said, adding that it cost Tk 600 a month to buy kerosene earlier.

Dr Kamal Hossain, an eminent jurist, Rehman Sobhan, a renowned economist, Wahiduddin Mahmud and AB Mirza Azizul Islam, both former caretaker government advisers, and Salehuddin Ahmed, a former governor of the central bank, were also present.

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2013 tellyseries