Skip main navigation

Interview with Professor Muhammad Yunus

Interview with professor Muhammad Yunus.
Chairman of Yunus Centre and Founder of Grameen Bank, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Social business is to solve human problems. We have problems around us; problems of poverty, problems of water, problems of health care, etc. So we need to address them. Usually governments come and try to solve these problems, and the foundations and the charity try too. But we are saying that it could be done in a business way. The distinction between the conventional businesses and the social businesses is that conventional business is for making profit personally. Social business is done to solve problems exclusively, there’s no intention of making money for ourselves; the whole thing is dedicated to solve problems. So, social businesses are non-dividend companies addressed to solve human problems with no intention of making personal profit.
Then it becomes very powerful, because the same money can be used again and again and also because anybody can do it. You don’t have to wait for a government to do it. Individual persons, individual citizens, can go ahead and start solving problems by creating social businesses You don’t have to wait for big foundations to come and do it in a charity way. You do it in the business way. So, you get your money back but our activity continues. That’s the power of social business.
Because people are interested in having a better world for themselves. We want to solve the problems that happen. People don’t do everything just to make money for themselves. There are a lot of things we do because we feel strongly about it. We want to help people, we want to change the world and create a different one. That’s when the charity comes in. People don’t do charity to make dividend.
But they leave a lot of money: more than a trillion dollar is given out as charity in the world each year. It’s a huge amount of money. So we’re talking about investing it in social business so that problem is solved, you get your money back, the money you invested, but you’re not interested in making profit.
So that’s the only difference we are making: we take the profit out of the table. So we concentrate on solving problems. That’s how social business becomes a goal in the hands of every person. If you don’t have money, you come up with an idea. If you can come up with an idea, that’s a big issue. If you have an idea, somebody can invest and make it happen. So any individual can do it, that’s the power. You don’t have to wait for any big company, you don’t have to wait for the government to do it, you don’t have to wait for big international financiers to do it. You do it, I do it as we wish.
And if we do small things they can grow to become big things, just by repeating them; I give a little money, you take it down because it’s a beautiful idea and you’ve done a little step. So if each one takes a step it becomes bigger. And that’s what social business can do.
We have problems everywhere: in rich countries, in poor countries, in big cities, small cities, rich cities, poor cities. There are poor people everywhere. There are problems of drugs, problems of balance, problems of health care, problems of housing, problems of old age, problems of women, single mothers, children, education… These are common things. Everybody that goes to New York City will see them, if you come to Dhaka you’ll see them, in Manila you’ll see them… Any city… In Paris you’ll see them. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s a rich country or a poor country, a small or a big city. There are problems and if there’s a problem we could create a social business to solve it.
So, we can work in Bangladesh, we can do it in the remote village, we can do it in the city of Dhaka, we can do it in the city of Paris, in Barcelona, in Madrid. It doesn’t matter, because there are problems. So we come up with business idea.
So the idea is: this country, rich or poor, is a material because problems are everywhere and we have the talent, we have the creative power to come up with business ideas, social business ideas ____ That’s what the social business does. And if you can do it in one place, whether it’s a rich or poor country, if you can do that, we have learned something. You can take this everywhere in the globe, everywhere around the world. So don’t ignore the small things that you do in your neighborhood, that may change the whole world. So, go ahead and do it.
Professor Muhammad Yunus is Chairman of Yunus Centre and Founder of Grameen Bank, Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2006, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nobel Media AB. (2014, December 10). The Nobel Peace Prize 2006 Muhammad Yunus: Nobel Lecture Accessed 30 November 2016.
This article is from the free online

Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education