Social Businesses Got financed through Social Business Design Lab

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The 13th Social Business Design Lab took place today, 15 March 2014, at Grameen Bank Auditorium. Around 150 participants from different organizations attended. Four member delegations from Yunus Centre at Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, three members from Japan, Professor A. K. Azad Khan, President of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS) and Mr. Muhammad Abdul Mazid, Chief Coordinator of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS), among others.

At the 13th design lab, Grameen Telecom Trust signed Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Eco Social Development Organization (ESDO) which will produce mustard oil where at least 1000 minority peoples are expected to work as employees. Grameen Telecom Trust also signed another agreement with Green Savers which will work to promote mobile plant nursery and clinic in the urban areas.

The Design Lab was chaired by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. He began by welcoming the guests including those participating via live stream.

Professor Yunus then provided a summary of the projects that had emerged from the previous 12 labs. Of a total of 86 social business plans presented, 73 social businesses had already received approval for implementation. Of these 36 had already become operational or near operational. During the lab held in February 1261 participants participated from 76 countries through live streaming in internet. Similar number are expected to participate in today's lab also.

Six new social business plans were presented at this design lab. These included three Nobin Uddokta projects, businesses launched by young entrepreneurs who are the children of Grameen Bank families. These were Shahidul Motor Parts Shop and Workshop by Md. Shahidul Islam,  Faruk Community Information Center by Md. Faruk Hossain, and Jahangir Engineering Workshop by Md Jahangir Alam.

In addition, a Social Business to create employment for disable people by Action on Disability and Development (ADD International), Fresh Mushroom & Seed Production based Social Business by Mr. Biplab Chakma of ASHIKA Agro-Farm Products Co-operative Society Ltd. and a Social Business of Tanklean by Mr Mozammel Hoque, CEO of  Tanklean, were presented.

All the plans were greeted warmly by the participants. There were several rounds of discussions on how each social business could be improved and strengthened during the main session as well as in breakout sessions. All six projects received go ahead to proceed. With the help of the Project Bondhu or Project Mentor,  these projects would be finalized for investment and implementation as next step.

In between sessions, there was a Q and A session with Professor Yunus with online participants from different countries.

In the second session, Grameen Communication made a short presentation on their upcoming social business on Portable Health Clinic and Call Centre which will provide the health care services through their innovative idea of “diagnostic centre in a box” for offering state-of-the-art treatment to people by distant doctor by using information technology, in the rural areas of Bangladesh. The service will be provided with minimum cost to individuals or communities.

Professor Yunus thanked the participants for the innovative social businesses and noted that it was exciting that so many ideas were now a reality. He also invited participants to the 14th Social Business Design Lab on April 19 and the annual social business day which will be held on June 28 this year.

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