When the Bottom Line Is Ending Poverty
Friday, February 29, 2008
Muhammad Yunus is a humble man who would resist being compared to Mahatma Gandhi. But the two have much in common as campaigners for social progress. While Gandhi’s goal was the end of colonialism, Yunus’ is just as grand: He means to reform capitalism to make it a tool for ending poverty. Think of him as Gandhi with a BlackBerry (RIMM).
Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work as founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, the pioneering microcredit organization in Bangladesh. He launched Grameen 31 years ago to help poor people start businesses. Since then the microcredit movement has gone global, with copycat organizations springing up in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Now Yunus is back in the public eye with a concept he calls social business. This form of capitalism, he believes, can make progress against poverty in ways that governments and traditional charities have not done. He lays out the concept in his new book, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. It’s an inspiring volume, full of practical information for people who are motivated to try out his ideas.