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‘Social business can help drive away poverty’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2018

Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus, in Chennai on Tuesday BIJOY GHOSH

Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus says teach the young they are job creators

Teach the young they are ‘job creators and not job seekers’, asserts Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank.

The challenge of unemployed youth is an artificial problem created by an education system that is “geared to finding jobs.”

The answer, Yunus said, is in social business.

Problem solving

When there is a problem, “I create a business to address it.” The objective is not to make money but to help people solve the problem and in the process, generate income for themselves, he said. That is the key to a sustainable social business, he said addressing a meeting organised by TiE Chennai and Villgro.

Not all individuals and organisations are just profit oriented and are willing to help. “People are a combination of both,” he said.

Joint ventures with large companies can help social businesses grow with technology and access to markets without diluting the underlying principle of helping people make money.

He recalled when Grameen Danone had been created with the help of the multinational dairy products company to solve the problem of malnutrition among children in Bangladesh.

Danone had asked its shareholders for $500,000 to fund a social business in Bangladesh that will not generate money for them. Shareholders had pooled in over €35 million and the company’s employees too had insisted on helping and the company created a €65 million social business fund that supports businesses in eight countries.

Right message

“Give the right message to the people and ask the right question,” and they will always help.

McCain, the French multinational food process company which controls 80 per cent of the global potato business, decided to help the Colombian coffee plantation workers who lost their jobs to become potato farmers.

The first crop was harvested last November and McCain had to compete with other buyers for the crop.

In France, when McCain realised that over one-fourth of its potato harvest could not be used because they were either left unpicked by machines or were not suitable to make chips, itgave tools to unemployed youth to harvest the remaining potato and created a potato soup recipe to use the raw material.

There is always something to do, he asserted. Funding a social business is better than making a one-time donation. In social business, money becomes more powerful because it is returned and can be used again and again to generate more business and help more people, he said.

Published on September 01, 2015

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