TiE Chennai and Villgro have organised a dinner event today – An Evening with Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Noble Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. I went to the event a little late but was lucky to reach well before his summary and Q & A session. His speech made many entrepreneurs in the packed hall introspect themselves, his speech was overwhelmingly uplifting and upbeat about the future of humanity. Few of the points from his speech:

  • His vision is to see a world with three Zeros. Zero Carbon Emission, Zero Poverty. Zero Unemployment. Carbon emission is destroying this world, Social Inequality between Rich and Poor is wider than ever, Economic upliftment of the poor is possible through simple entrepreneurship take the example of Illiterate Bangladesh Women who gets funded by Grameen Bank or the Beggars who have turned to selling wares where they used to go for begging. Poverty is a threat to peace. Top of the society is juicy, bottom is dry and poor.
  • Every human being is an entrepreneur, You don’t need a college degree to be entrepreneur, you just need to believe in yourself.
  • Nature is simple. It is only the Human mind and society that complicates. Don’t approach every problem thinking it is too big to tackle, take a piece solve it, keep going.
  • Gramin bank has given microcredit to 8.5 million people, most of them are unemployed illiterate Bangladesh women. First hand experience in Grameen Bank in the initial waves out of 100,000 beggars who were given say USD 20 to buy wares to sell, 25% gave up begging for good.
  • Poverty is not created by poor people. It’s the problem of the society. Like a Bonsai tree planted in a pot with less soil, the society is not giving them space to grow. For example, Bangladesh reduced poverty by 50% in 2013, two years ahead of millennium goal. At this rate Poverty is going to be zero in Bangladesh by 2030, we need a museum for our grandchildren to see and remember poverty. Future generations will regard us as criminals for allowing poverty to have existed for so long.
  • When media asks me whether Danone is using me, in the context of our Yogurt social business, I thought for some time and replied that Anybody can use me for a good cause.
  • Business of selflessness. That’s Social business, it’s not just writing a cheque/philanthropy, it is to do it in an entrepreneur way, put your heart and soul, get the money that you invested come back. That’s what we try to encourage in Yunus Social Business (YSB). YSB India has just been started, we have Ms.Aarti Wig as our India Head.

Answering queries, Professor Yunus observed:

  • Healthcare in nature has to be all about prevention, but today since it has become a business, it’s all about cure. We want people to get sick so that we can cure people. Today’s technology is all about making money, people who invent technology have to start thinking how it will be help poor people.
  • Growers (Farmers) worldwide don’t get money, they get pennies for their produce, at the same time buyers/consumers in cities pay big money. It’s the middleman and system that takes bulk of the money. It’s the same state whether it is coffee, cocoa or Shea nut which is collected by poor forest dwellers (ladies). We are looking at how we can create a social business to do the marketing, we have been doing a pilot with L’Oréal in Paris to have them source Shea tree nuts directly from the forest dwellers to produce the coveted Shea butter used in skin care.



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