Yunus, “It’s totally unacceptable for a young person to remain unutilized, literally, we have to create a new civilization”
A search of this site will reveal five articles about the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus. This, the sixth, opens with a reference to the annual Global Social Business Summit, a worldwide forum for social business, non-loss, non-dividend companies with a social goal, organised by Muhammad Yunus and his advisor Hans Reitz (below left).
Theme: “Creating a World Without Poverty and Unemployment”
This year’s gathering in Berlin was attended by experts from the private sector, civil society, governments and academia and organised by the Grameen Creative Lab in Germany, the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, German tourism agency visitBerlin, the YY Foundation of Germany and Yunus Social Business. Interviewed by a Washington Post journalist at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2012, Yunus described the unemployment rate among the world’s youth as shameful, asking the participants, many of whom are in a position to determine economic policy — were really that “stupid” as to let young people go unemployed: “[It’s] a totally unacceptable proposition for a young person to remain un-utilized . . . Literally, we have to create a new civilization, there’s nothing impossible today.”
Burkhard Kieker, chief executive of visitBerlin, said the summit is taking place at a time when they are setting up 200 beds for Syrian refugees in the two disuse airport hangars and the summit could help to give new ideas that give these people a chance to have a new future.
Emmanuel Faber, chief executive of French food company Danone, one of the first companies in the world to have started a social business, said: “We have committed ourselves to the model because it is reassuring. We know this will create values in the long run.” “We know profit is a consequence, but a living organisation has to do it in a sustainable way.”
In a book published in 2009, Yunus (above), explained that social businesses are not charities. They can be defined as non-loss, non-dividend businesses, set up to pursue specific social and environmental goals – cause-driven rather than profit-driven – with the potential to act as an agent for change in the world. Their workers create goods or services provided for a price consistent with the underlying objective: to create social benefits for those whose lives it touches. The companies may earn a profit, but the investors take no profits out of the company, ‘leveraging’ their own business skills and creativity to solve social problems and recouping their original investment over a period of time. Rather than being passed on to investors, the surplus generated by the social business is reinvested in the business and ultimately, passed on to the target group of beneficiaries in the form of lower prices and better service, and greater accessibility.
Currently recovering from an operation, Yunus sent a goodwill message to the Berlin gathering
A number of participants said that his absence would be keenly felt. “At the same time, we have to keep working, keeping in mind that the idea is bigger than the individuals,” said Uwe Heuser, head of editorial business department of Die Zeit, a German national weekly newspaper, who moderated the dialogue.
Yunis said that not a single UN sustainable development goal should be ignored: “These are the goals that are knitted in our hearts. We have firm commitments to achieving these goals — we have to make sure that it happens.”
Hans Reitz, head of the Global Social Business Summit, called for the current economic system to be redesigned in a way that can reshape villages, cities and countries.