Muham­mad Yunus

Forbes - - CON­TENTS -

FA­THER OF MI­CROLEND­ING: FOUNDER, GRAMEEN BANK; WIN­NER, NO­BEL PEACE PRIZE

Cap­i­tal­ism has been in­ter­preted to be based on greed. But while hu­man be­ings are self­ish, they’re also self­less. Why is the lat­ter part dis­carded from the in­ter­pre­ta­tion? We’re in­creas­ingly see­ing so­cial busi­nesses, or non­div­i­dend busi­nesses, whose en­tire ob­jec­tive is to solve prob­lems rather than make money, be­ing born in many parts of the world. In so­cial busi­nesses, prof­its are re­cy­cled in­side the com­pany it­self to con­tinue work on a prob­lem. In­vestors get to re­coup their money but noth­ing more, other than the en­joy­ment of what they’ve done. Mak­ing money is a hap­pi­ness; mak­ing other peo­ple happy is a su­per-hap­pi­ness.

An ex­am­ple: We’ve started Grameen Shakti, or “Grameen En­ergy,” to bring elec­tric­ity to ru­ral Bangladesh. We tell peo­ple, “What­ever money you spend on kerosene every month, give that money to us, and we’ll give you elec­tric­ity.” And we use their money to fi­nance their so­lar home sys­tem—and af­ter three years, they get to keep it with­out any other pay­ments. We’ve cre­ated 2 mil­lion so­lar-pow­ered ru­ral homes, the world’s largest off-grid sys­tem, and cus­tomers can’t be­lieve it—they can now have tele­vi­sion and charge mo­bile phones. It’s so suc­cess­ful, many com­peti­tors have sprung up—which we wel­come, be­cause we are a so­cial busi­ness, and those com­peti­tors help solve the prob­lem.

In Bangladesh, for the last three years, we have been ask­ing un­em­ployed young peo­ple to come up with their own mon­ey­mak­ing busi­ness ideas, and we in­vest in them. We be­come the so­cial busi­ness ven­ture cap­i­tal fund for them. We as­sure them that none of them will be re­jected, only the im­ple­men­ta­tion-ready ones will get funded. Now we fund 1,500 new en­trepreneurs each month. This num­ber keeps grow­ing every month. Nineteen thou­sand busi­nesses have al­ready been funded. Suc­cess rate is 99.5%. We be­lieve all hu­man be­ings are born as en­trepreneurs. They are not born to work for some­body else. Their early his­tory is about be­ing hunters, gath­er­ers and prob­lem-solvers. It re­mained as an es­sen­tial part of our DNA; we are not job-seek­ers, we are job creators. Job­seek­ing is a wrong turn in our his­tory.

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