Spent a day in a discussion and conference with this amazing man. Prof or Doctor, whatever adjective you want to give him, Mohammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and many other Grameen Enterprises has changed and continues to change the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh and all over the world. Bringing people out of abject poverty and hopelessness into a life filled with hope, enterprise and dignity.
Grameen Bank has consistently lent money to those that not only banks would not entertain, but you would not let into your homes. Destitute women, (90% of all loans are to women include some that had never touched money before), beggars from the streets encouraging and funding them to turn into door to door salesmen.
For every problem, Prof Yunus has a socially meaningful and an amazingly creative solution. He turns the problem into a paradox and then upside down to find a solution. When the kids who were educated through the raising of standards of living by Grameen Bank loans found they could not get jobs, Prof Yunus started to think of solutions to unemployment. He thought their were not enough employers then !!!
“I went to the kids of the families that had grown prosperous through their relationship with Grameen Bank and said :: How many people can say that their mother’s owned a bank ? ”
The Bank is owned by the women (mostly) that borrowed and returned money. He then loaned their kids money to start businesses to generate employment. He effectively turned job seekers into job creators through loaning money to what he effectively calls his 10 million strong family. And to those that wonder, Grameen Bank has the lowest rate of non – repayment of loans anywhere in the world. A record of 95% good debts. A startling proof that honesty and social consciousness if far far higher in the poor than in the rich.
Prof Yunus now is on a mission to inculcate the same values in the corporate world. The values that he found in the poorest and the most downtrodden in the world. He wants to encourage and create Social Business. He does not want, and never has, encouraged charity. For he believes in sustainable business models and feels charity is not sustainable.
All he wants is for enterprises to understand that it is possible to make a difference by ploughing back the profits of your enterprise into the community, once again, not in charity, but in viable creation of social enterprises. Danone (the food and water co) for example has already started to produce yoghurt (Dahi) in Bangladesh that goes out to school kids that is specially formatted to include all the nutrition a child needs in a day. The factories are small scale enterprises spread in the countryside so they are not heavy on the environment, and the milk can come from local farmers and does not need to travel large distances. The technology was developed at Danone in France in collaboration with Grameen engineers, and the price of the nutritious youghurt is such that almost anyone can afford it at least twice a week.
Danone makes money, they show profits after all expenses. It’s just that they do not take the profits out, but plough it back in to the community. Prof Yunus is now, on a campaign to spread this to the rest of the world.
He and I are talking about a Social Media business. Any suggestions ?