Monday, March 15, 2010

Adding to capitalism

Muhammad Yunus is in Australia speaking on the concept of social business, and the concept caught the attention of columnist Peter Harcher of the Sydney Morning Herald. Harcher says that Yunus isn't trying to change capitalism, but simply add something to it.

Muhammad Yunus has already created four such businesses by having his Grammen Bank partner with already established corporations such as Dannon Yogurt, Adidas Shoes and others. Harcher interviewed Yunus about the concept of social business.

As Yunus wrote in his book Creating a World Without Poverty: "It is tempting to simply dump our world's social problems into the lap of government and say 'here, fix this.' But if this approach were effective, the problems would have been solved long ago."

Need to create jobs? Want to develop more renewable energy? You can design a social business to do something about it, says Yunus.

"I have just been in Japan where everyone is talking about the problem of suicides, 100 a day. Here everyone talks about the problem of the indigenous people's life expectancy. Well, you can create a social business to solve it."

But why would investors put money into a venture that promises to return no more money than they started with?

Because conventional corporations are an outgrowth of only one aspect of the human being, he argues: "The part they appeal to is selfishness. But humans also have a selfless part, and social business is an expression of that part. The two only make sense together.

"I can make my mark in the world, not just money. At the end of my life, has it been worth living? At the moment, you spend your life stacking up money and goodbye. And that's it?"

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