Solve a problem with tech

Sohel Parvez

Kazi I. Huque

Tending to an expectant mother, a health worker keys answers to a set of questions into her smartphone. The information is then sent to a local clinic by the internet-enabled phone for a follow-up.

If the situation is deemed risky, doctors respond by sending an SMS alert back to the health worker to bring the patient to hospital for further attention.

This is how Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd helps reduce maternal mortality through the use of software applications on modern devices, such as laptops, netbooks or smartphones.

Yunus happy over responses to social business model

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus signs a copy for an enthusiast of his latest book, Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs, at its launch in Dhaka on Social Business Day yesterday.

Photo: STAR

Star Business Report

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has said he is happy to see his social business model attracting many, from youths to academics, giant businesses and governments in different countries.

He is also confident that such non-dividend business model could make up for a missing link in today's economic theories that are fundamentally flawed and unable to deal with issues like financial, food and energy crises.

Social business: A solution to ills

Yunus explains his concept in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star on the eve of Social Business Day

Arun Devnath

Build business on the selfless nature of mankind. It is business with a difference, social business -- that is. It has a social goal -- to find a solution to a local problem. It may be the seed of a solution to a global problem. Someday, perhaps.

As Muhammad Yunus puts it, an investor in a social business aims to help others without making financial gains for himself. For the company, it is business and must be self-sustaining. The Nobel laureate says it must generate enough income to cover its own costs. In his latest book, Yunus describes a social business as a non-loss, non-dividend company, dedicated entirely to achieving a social goal.

Yunus sat with The Daily Star on the eve of Social Business Day to set a tone for the future of social business, a concept that promises to bring a fundamental change to the traditional economic structure.

An Interview with Professor Muhammad Yunus Chairman, Grameen Shakti

1.    Why Grameen Shakti?

Global warming is an on-going over-riding issue in Bangladesh.  So is the shortage of power.  There is hardly any electricity in the rural areas.  Eighty per cent of people of Bangladesh live in the rural areas.  Seventy percent of the population of Bangladesh has no access to electricity. I thought it gives us an opportunity to bring renewable energy to Bangladesh. But it was not easy, because the price of solar panel per watt was too high; it was not affordable to villagers. In addition, high costs are involved in installing solar panels in village homes. At one point, I thought I should start experimenting with it even if it is too expensive.  Maybe someday, the price of solar panel will come down; and it will become affordable. 

I contacted Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) in January, 1995.  They responded very warmly to help us experiment with the acceptability of solar home system.  I went to the USA the same month and met them.  Following up on our discussion RBF wrote to Mr. Neville Williams, Chairman, Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) explaining my interest in experimenting with solar home systems in a sustainable way.  Mr. Williams connected me to Solar Power Light Company Ltd (Sri Lanka) and Lotus Energy (Nepal).

Veolia Water's Global CEO meets with Professor Yunus

World's largest water management company Veolia Water’s newly appointed global CEO Jean-Michel Herrewyn came to Bangladesh from Paris to attend the board meeting of Grameen Veolia Water Ltd. (GVW) on June 17th, 2010, along with Eric Lesueur, Projects Director, Veolia Water and Mr. Patrick Rousseau, Managing Director of Veolia Water India. GVW is making efforts to bring safe drinking water to the villages of Goalmari and Padua unions, Daudkandi establishing a water plant and running it as a social business to mitigate the arsenic problem. Mr Herrewyn and his companions also visited the village sites. During this trip Mr. Herrewyn re affirmed Veolia Water's commitment for the smooth operation of this project. Picture shows from left Mr. Patrick Rousseau, Professor Yunus, Mr. Jean-Michel Herrewyn and Mr. Eric Lesueur.
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