Clinton Unveils Initiatives to Help Muslim Entrepreneurs

Series of initiatives designed to boost America's relations with entrepreneurs in countries with large Muslim populations
Attendees of the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship listen as President Barack Obama speaks in Washington, 26 Apr 2010
Photo: AP

Attendees of the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship listen as President Barack Obama speaks in Washington, 26 Apr 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a series of initiatives designed to boost America's relations with entrepreneurs in countries with large Muslim populations.  Clinton's remarks came at the end of a two-day summit on entrepreneurship.  

Secretary Clinton announced the new programs she says are designed to help entrepreneurs in mostly-Muslim countries and eventually expand worldwide.

"I am pleased to announce the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Programs' first pilot program, in Egypt, coordinated by a team of entrepreneurs in residence from USAID.  We will soon launch our second program in Indonesia and we plan to expand to a dozen countries within the next two years," she said.

The new initiatives are intended to expand the availability of capital so entrepreneurs will have access to credit to enable them to put their ideas to work.

Clinton also announced new partnerships between business schools in the United States and educational institutions worldwide to share knowledge and expand business education.

Another program will link U.S. mentors with aspiring entrepreneurs to provide expertise on issues such as securing financing or writing a business plan.

"Now these initiatives comprise a first wave of programs to promote global entrepreneurship, but they reflect the Obama administration's commitment to a new approach to development, one based on investment, not aid, on supporting local leadership and ideas rather than imposing our own," said Clinton.

Clinton's announcements came on the final day of a conference that brought to Washington more than 250 entrepreneurs from 50 countries with large Muslim populations.

Rashad Hussain, the Obama administration's special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, says nearly a year after the president's speech to the Muslim world last June in Cairo, the U.S. is making significant efforts to address issues of mutual concern.

"We see a world in which the United States continues to be committed to leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, is continued (dedicated) to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that we would have the seeds planted for various programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, such as we see here," said Hussein. 

One of the entrepreneurs at the conference is Tri Mumpuni, who has put together small financing programs and economic incentives to bring electricity to 60 rural villages scattered throughout Indonesia.               

"We know that electricity is the backbone of economic development.  We would like to start with giving electricity because from the electricity people can be directed to many different [aspects] of the welfare and improvement of their life," said Tri Mumpuni.

The U.S. also announced a new program at the summit to assist women in technology fields who will have the opportunity to come to the United States for internships and professional development.

One of the best known entrepreneurs at the summit was Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank and transformed the lives of millions of poor women in Bangladesh through micro-credit (small loans).

"Today we have over eight million borrowers, 97 percent of them are women.  And they own the bank.  We made the rule right from the beginning that the bank will be owned by the borrowers.  So it is a bank that not only serves the poor women, it is also a bank which is owned by the poor women.  They sit on the board, they make the decisions," said Yunus.

While the entrepreneurship summit is officially over, dozens of private groups will hold sessions for the delegates over the next few days to bring together venture capitalists, development bankers and other business experts to promote the partnership between the U.S. and the Muslim world.  A follow-up summit is scheduled to take place next year in Turkey.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/Clinton-Unveils-Initiatives-to-Help-Muslim-Entrepreneurs-92301589.html

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs

This third book by Professor Yunus, following Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty, is dedicated solely towards the concept of social business, its implementation, and its maintenance. Social business is an innovative business model which promotes the idea of doing business in order to address a social problem, not just to maximize profit. As the title suggests, this complement to traditional capitalism truly can serve humanity's most pressing needs, especially poverty. Each and every social business creates employment, good working conditions, and of course, addresses a specific social ill such as lack of education, healthcare, and good nutrition.

In simple terms, a social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company dedicated entirely to achieve a social goal. In social business, the investor gets his investment money back over time, but never receives dividend beyond that amount. The Grameen Bank is a prime example of social business, with the Grameen borrowers themselves being its shareholders!

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To Catch A Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks On America chronicles the growth and effect of Grameen America, a not-for-profit microfinance organization founded by Yunus, during its first year of operations in Queens, New York. The film focuses on entrepreneurial women borrowers who, availing themselves of opportunities offered by Grameen America, pursue individual paths from poverty to success as bakers, hair stylists and in other business careers.

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