Muhammad Yunus: 5 thoughts

2013-10-13 14:00

The Gordon Institute of Business Science recently hosted Nobel peace prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is chairperson of the Yunus Centre and father of the microcredit concept through his Grameen Bank.

The institution supports 8.3?million people, 97% of them women, with loans to grow businesses and lift them out of poverty. The following are some of his thoughts on:

1 Poverty

Yunus believes that credit is a fundamental human right and that poverty can be eradicated through microlending and social business.

“After seeing the situation of poor people again and again, I have realised that poverty is not their creation,” he says.

“Poverty is caused by the system. If you change the system, nobody will be poor. All they need is an option, a chance, just a little opportunity.”

2 Lending to women

“Initially, we wanted to make sure that at least half our borrowers were women, as the money going to women was more beneficial to families than the money going to the family through men.

“Thereafter, we began to focus on women and today they make up 97% of Grameen Bank’s borrowers.”

3 Social business

Yunus has extended the concept of microcredit further into social business – businesses that are profitable and sustainable but whose purpose is contributing to social progress and solving problems.

“We have enormous creative power in the world today, but most of it is in the hands of business and is used to create money. We can continue to do that, but we must also open it up to all and use that power to solve problems.”

4 What is wrong with capitalism?

“The essence of capitalism has become just the maximisation of profit, but its true essence is options, a free market.

“Today, capitalism is standing on one leg. That is why it is so unsteady. Profit is a habit, a passion, an addiction, but human beings are not money-making robots. The present interpretation (of capitalism) appeals to only one part of the human being. Yes, people are selfish, but at the same time don’t forget that they can be selfless too.”

5 Entrepreneurship

“All human beings are entrepreneurs, with no exception, even the beggar on the street.

“But our system, our society, our concepts, push that entrepreneurial spirit back into us and seal it off.”

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