Against all odds and the principles that define the banking and microfinancing sector, Social Business Entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, (2006), Muhammad Yunus continues to give the sector a new meaning.
Known for his unconventional beliefs which are the pillars of his work in the Social Business landscape, the founder of Grameen Bank, Prof. Yunus was not short on wit and inspiration as he shed light on the dangers of a dependency generation, during a public lecture at Strathmore Business School.
In collaboration with Villgro Kenya, the lecture dubbed; “The Power of Social Business”, gave the history and the inspiration behind the formation of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh which he founded in 1983. Grameen Bank, Banking on the Poor, as popularly known for, had cropped from Prof. Yunus’ belief that financial and crediting facilities could offer immense support to poor village women whose livelihoods were dependent on small scale business endeavors. By entrusting these women with the financing to support their businesses, the contribution of these women to their household and to whom they support, would ripple into a transformative change in the society.
“The village gave me a clearer perspective towards how education in institutions of learning, most of them located in the urban centers had shadowed us from seeing the reality on the ground. I met women who had no formal education but were very eager to make something better off whatever was handed to them,” said Prof. Yunus.
Grameen Bank, one of the largest banks by asset base in Bangladesh, requires no collateral from the lenders, of whom are mostly small-scale business owners who would on other banking grounding would have been rendered high risk.
“I had no training in banking and I believe that not knowing was a great blessing. Having a fresh mind gave me the freedom to look at the matter with a simplified mindset. Complexity is a notion to impede people from devising solutions to challenges. We have all heard of the phrase it’s complicated, which often translates that the situation is unsolvable,” said. Prof. Yunus. What has been the success of the Bank? “It’s the people the bank serves and our simple approach towards addressing the challenges that face them,” he answered.
Since 2006, Professor Yunus has focused on spreading and implementing the concept of “social business”—companies created for social good rather than private profit— through Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives. He is dedicated to solving social problems, such as healthcare, education, sanitation, water pollution, unemployment, environmental degradation.
“I greatly believe that our greatest undoing in harnessing the potential of the youth to be wealth creators, was in teaching them to be job seekers; and dependents of others. A job is an obsolete idea, and it’s unfortunate that our education failed to translate the talents of the youth into the creation and innovation of solutions to solve world’s challenges,”
Prof Yunus also runs Yunus Social Business a non-profit venture fund with philanthropic donations, with an aim of harnessing the power of social business to end poverty. Through his organization, they turn donations into investments in social businesses providing employment, education, healthcare, water and clean energy to over two million people.