Sunday, September 25, 2011


(Daily Star Online) - UNB, Dhaka

Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has said ‘Social Business’ can be a great tool for rebuilding the quake-hit Haiti.

“Social business will have a tremendous impact on the reconstruction of Haiti's economy and social fabric,” Dr Yunus said emphasising the critical role of the youth of Haiti and their role in rebuilding the country.

The Nobel laureate was in New York, where he attended the MDG Advocacy Group meeting on September 20.

The meeting was presided over by President Kagame of Rwanda, who is the co-chair of the Group, created by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The other co-chair is the Secretary General himself.

The Group adopted an action plan, including a series of social business initiatives in various countries, and stipulated a Social Business Tour of Africa to stimulate initiation of social businesses in Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In another session at the Clinton Global Initiative, Professor Yunus, who is a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council of Haiti, along with President Clinton, former President Uribe of Colombia, appointed by President Martelli of Haiti, participated in the intensive discussion on Haiti's future economic and social actions.

In a separate ceremony, he signed an MoU with Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of Inter American Development Bank, to undertake joint programmes in Haiti.

A social business fund for Haiti has already been established. This fund will provide funding to anyone wishing to set up a social business in the country.

On September 22, Professor Yunus participated in a plenary session at the Clinton Global Initiative titled ‘Engaging Boys and Men as Allies for Long-term Change’ and the other speakers included former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.

During this plenary, Yunus said, “It’s not just the responsibility of women alone to pull their families out of poverty, but also that of the men. And men and boys have to stand in solidarity with women and girls as they fight for their empowerment.”

He was the keynote speaker at the 2nd Social Good Summit, where Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor for The Economist magazine, engaged him in a conversation on various issues to a packed audience at the famous 92 St.Y.

Professor Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, stressed the importance of social business, saying that it was needed to solve the vast problems that the world is facing this time.

He said, “We need to get to a place where profit making will not be the only option in business, it will one of the two major options, other option being the social business, i.e., engaging in business exclusively to solve problems. Once we can get to that reality, we will see the world with very different eyes. Things that seem impossible will suddenly become possible.”

He met the former President of Bulgaria, Peter Stoyanov, in an exclusive private lunch.

Stoyanov expressed a desire to start social business in Bulgaria. He invited Professor Yunus to visit Bulgaria in the coming months to explore the potential for social business in the country.

Prof Yunus also attended two premieres of documentaries showing the impact of microfinance.

On September 21, Yunus was at the premiere of ‘To Catch a Dollar’ a documentary, created by Gayle Ferraro, showing the impact of microcredit in America. On September 22, he was at the world premiere of ‘Bonsai People---The Vision of Muhammad Yunus’ created by award winning filmmaker Holly Mosher. “Bonsai People” is a film about the work of Professor Yunus, microfinance and social business.

Yunus went to Chicago on September 23, to receive a St Vincent DePaul Award from Depaul University.

On September 25, Professor Yunus will be the chief guest at the grand opening of Grameen America’s branch in Bronx, New York. This branch will join a network of 6 other Grameen America branches, and will be the 4th branch in New York, the other branches are in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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