Social Business Summit kicks off in Berlin today
Social Business Summit kicks off in Berlin today
Today, Berlin is considered the idea factory of Europe, a place where unusual concepts are born, where aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world come to jump-start their dreams.
And, hoping to leverage this wealth of ideas to find solutions to poverty eradication and unemployment, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has brought his passion project, the Global Social Business Summit, to the city this year.
The four-day event, which is the seventh of its kind, will kick off in the German capital today to explore how social businesses can address each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unveiled in September by the United Nations.
The SDGs are a set of ambitious but achievable milestones that can change the world for the better for everyone. If carried out properly, they will eradicate poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and combat climate change.
Grameen Creative Lab in Germany and the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh are organising the event on the grounds of the Berlin Tempelhof Airport in partnership with German tourism agency visitBerlin, the YY Foundation of Germany and Yunus Social Business.
More than 1,000 participants from around 70 countries are expected to attend the programme.
Participants will hear from 50 international guest speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds: from corporate, philanthropic and social business leaders to scientists and visionaries, said Saskia Bruysten, co-founder and chief executive of Yunus Social Business Germany.
This year, Dr Yunus will not be able to attend the summit in person due to ill health, said Hans Reitz, head of Global Social Business Summit, in a statement. He will give a speech in a video message today.
Despite his sudden illness, Yunus was bullish about the success of the summit. “There should be no time for disappointment, because I am more than convinced that you will make this summit a remarkable gathering,” he said in a statement.
Other than the SDGs, topics such as the Three Zeros (zero poverty, zero unemployment, zero carbon emission), the social business ecosystem, and fostering partnerships to create social impact will be discussed, Bruysten said.
The summit is a leading forum for social business, non-loss, non-dividend companies with a social goal.
It serves to spread awareness about social business, foster discussions and collaboration between practitioners and stakeholders, as well as present and conceive best practices.
Apart from social issues, the event will also address the refugee crisis, a burning topic in Europe and the world in general at present following the arrival of thousands of people fleeing war-torn Syria, Libya and Iraq.
The summit has set up a refugee taskforce under the leadership of Ron Garan, a NASA astronaut, and Michael Badics, senior director of Ars Electronica Solutions, a Vienna-based company that creates customised interactive products and services in areas such as exhibitions, event and show design, urban media development and shop experience.
They will host meetings during the conference to explore how to use social business tools to mitigate the refugees' risk of poverty and unemployment.
Born out of Yunus's experience from running the Nobel Prize-winning Grameen Bank, a social business is a non-dividend company to solve a social problem.
Like a non-government organisation, it has a social mission and like a firm it generates its own revenues to cover costs. Investors may recoup their investment.
All profits are reinvested for growth and innovation, or to seed new social business ventures.
Since its inception, social business has become an important driver in turning unemployment into entrepreneurship in many countries. “We all know about the frustrating situation especially for many young people who are full of creativity and their capacity to do things but remain unemployed,” Yunus said.
“We have started to campaign to redirect their minds from the traditional path of hunting for jobs to creating jobs for themselves and others through entrepreneurship,” he added. Burkhard Kieker, CEO of visitBerlin, said: “We are delighted to have won the Global Social Business Summit for Berlin. The city's inspirational atmosphere is the right place for the international participants of this sustainability conference.”
In the run-up to the summit, an academia conference took place in Berlin yesterday.
Papers on social business -- authored by researchers from countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, India, Germany, the US and Japan -- were presented.
The conference was chaired by CB Bhattacharya, a professor of European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, and moderated by Lamiya Morshed, executive director of the Yunus Centre in Dhaka. The Global Social Business Summit began its journey in Germany in 2009. Subsequent events took place in Germany, Austria, Malaysia and Mexico.