I had a rare opportunity to share my impressions with the Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, Chairman of Yunus Center and Founder of Grameen Bank in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 22 December, 2012. The deliberation reiterated the efficacy of social business. The major concerns were finding the answer on how to expect social business yielding concrete results & how one can change the lives of many? This is what Professor Yunus is involved in achieving this goal through his center in Bangladesh.
Hunger and malnutrition has long been a ‘forgotten MDG’. If we recall Professor Yunus’ remark on the eradication of poverty, it is really remarkable at a time when global community has become pessimist in creating employment opportunities for the poor and reducing inequality. Dr. Yunus states, “Grameen is a message of hope, a program for putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long”
In his book, ‘Creating a world without poverty—Social Business and the future of capitalism and Building Social Business’, Professor Yunus says, social business is the new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs. Such business is a non-loss, non-dividend company, which addresses social objective – modest profit, if any, it is for expanding services & social mission
Dr. Yunus’s advice is very powerful when he advices “Don’t worry about the money part, worry about the design.” In the “One Young World summit” Dr. Yunus has suggested the creation of “One Young World Social Business Fund”. It may be replicable in Nepal after we understand the detailed modality for the management of such fund for social businesses. When Prof. Yunus was in Kathmandu Chaudhary Group through its CG Foundation has signed an agreement with the Yunus Center to form a Social Business Fund with an amount of US$ 1 million. The fund will abide by the principles of social business as postulated by Profesor Yunus. The fund is expected to finance social business ventures in Nepal. The Foundation was established as the Chaudhary Groups’ corporate social responsibility initiative and will work in the field of health and education and provide grants to promote art, culture and sports in the country. The Yunus Center will provide technical support.
Prof. Yunus’s social businesses can be linked to some of the best practices being executed in Nepal. The case of Poverty Alleviation Fund can be considered under thelivelihood program. Under health, significant initiative is National Vitamin A Program. Similarly, Community Forestry Program is one of the flagship initiatives underEnvironment. With regards to social mobilization, and poverty reduction, Nepal’s success stories lie in the community forestry. The aim is to protect the forest and to fulfill the needs for forest products and earn the basic livelihood of the local residents, by handing over the accessible forest areas to the user groups for management and utilization of forest resources. The community forestry has not only increased the forest cover but also helped in livelihood of the poor and forest management capacity of the community. It is satisfying experience, through Professor Yunus’s social entrepreneurship initiative; the global dialogue in sharing best practices is taking a shape.
Social business is a welfare approach, which goes beyond the traditional concept of economic development. Against profit-maximization in capitalism, profit in social business is for improving the quality of services for the poor (access to education, health care, basic technology, financial service, nutrition, fresh drinking water and energy security. In social business, enterprises are given full or majority ownership to the poor, therefore, profit is distributed as dividend to the poor
Globalization is blamed for creating inequality but Social enterprise intends to give humane flavor in globalization to retain it for the poor. In conventional thinking, business opportunities mean the possibilities in business to expand and receive profits through more sales and profits. But when we say business constraints, there is a limit in the ability to grow, and under such constraints it reduces sales and profit potential. Opportunities relate to the market, development of new technologies. The bottom line – threats are economic, political and legal constraints, and therefore, the challenge to Social business is seeking to turn constraint into opportunities, while at the same time building on existing opportunities.