Yunus poised to move Grameen Scotland forward in July
Social Enterprise Live
Muhammad Yunus – who set up Grameen Bank to tackle poverty in Bangladesh – will take part in new talks about Grameen Scotland this July, he said last night.
Speaking in an hour-long lecture at the London School of Economics, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has started numerous social businesses in Bangladesh and the US, said he had been compelled to help tackle three generations of unemployment in Glasgow and the resulting problems he believes this has caused.
Addressing a full lecture theatre and an overspill video-linked room, Yunus said: ‘Glasgow wanted Grameen Scotland. There are big problems in the city, with thousands of families in three generations of unemployment because of the welfare system. I said to them, a social business should be created to take ten people out of welfare and if it works, repeat it, and take all people out of the welfare system. In July I will go there and start talks.’
His new book, titled Building Social Business, explains his link with Glasgow Caledonian University and how it has led to the partnership trying to tackle poverty and unemployment in the area. The connection was formed when he was invited to accept an honorary degree from the university at the end of 2008.
Ideally he wants to loan small amounts of money, or ‘microcredit’, to people in Glasgow to help them build up businesses, but for them to still receive benefit payments for the first three years of a business. The university will study the social, health and economic effects of the lending for at least ten years, he says in the new book.
Yunus used his 35 minute speech and 25 minutes of questions to repeatedly tell the audience that ‘anyone can start a social business anywhere’.
He also spoke about his new work with companies like Adidas, who are providing shoes for under one Euro in Bangladesh, thanks to his influence.
And he said he’d had discussions with L’Oreal about using fairtrade shea butter. ‘We said to them, if we created a social business selling shea butter, would you buy from us? And they said, “Yes, if it was competitive”.’
He also spoke about his creation of a Social Business Fund for Haiti, so that some of the disaster money is ring-fenced for housing, healthcare, agriculture, job creation, microfinance and more.
The lecture, which was part of a tour, saw him encourage Bangladeshis in the UK to help Bangladesh. He said they could do this from the UK and didn’t need to go to the country.
His other messages for social businesses were to ‘make the business fun for everyone from the person at the top to the floor sweeper’, and ‘to not be put off if an idea doesn’t work and to think about revisiting it in the future’.
He also said that if rival private businesses drove social businesses out of an area ‘you must come back stronger’.
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