Friday, July 31, 2009

Muhammad Yunus to receive Medal of Freedom

We congratulate Dr. Muhammad Yunus as he will soon receive a Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama. The medal is the highest civilian honor in the U.S.. Yunus will receive the award in recognition for his pioneering work in microcredit. He first came up with the idea of giving small loans to poor people without collateral back in the 1970s.

From Microfinance Focus, we find this reprint of an interview conducted in March with Dr. Yunus.

MF FOCUS: Microfinance is an established and recognised instrument to fight poverty today. Many people are confident and hope that poverty can be eliminated through it. Isn’t it too simple just to rely on microfinance?

Dr. Yunus: You don’t have to. Nobody is forcing you to do that. If somebody wants to do Microcredit, fine. I wouldn’t say this is something everybody should have. Nobody says it is the only solution. Human beings are very multi-dimensional. Microfinance is one of the many, many things.

MF FOCUS: Social business is an additional way. Do you identify enough potential for social business to make a real difference, globally?

Dr. Yunus: Yes of course. Definitely it is a global and not a local issue. There are two kinds of businesses: One is business to make money, the other business is to change the world. This one is with the intention of changing the world and not to have any personal gain from that. It is all dedicated to make a difference. It is addressing a social issue, to resolve it. You can do that.

MF FOCUS: What are the factors that make social businesses successful?

Dr. Yunus: A good business plan, good ideas and use the creativity in the most creative way.

MF FOCUS: Microfinance as well as Social businesses have to be highly efficient. How is it possible to maintain or re-introduce the social mission back into microfinance?

Dr. Yunus: Whenever something gets popular, actually catches attention, there are people who take advantage of that and misuse it. It happens in everything. When Big brands are popular, it gets imitated by fake ones. Same thing happens with microcredit. People name it microcredit but in fact it is not microcredit. It is something completely different.
People have to be made aware of what is microcredit and why it is important to stick to the real microcredit and not the one which has a different motivation. But while you are looking at the microcredit itself, even good people may have wrong ideas, which makes them shift away from the whole idea, the mission. We have to be very careful and remind ourselves, what is our mission. That is why we have meetings (Sa-dhan conference) like this, to rediscover your mission and then re-adjust your work to the mission.

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