Dr. Yunus Inspires Students to Create Social Businesses
Friday, December 2, 2011
Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus brought to Georgia his vision for students to create businesses that would help alleviate some of the state’s most intractable social problems.
And the visit has prompted the University System of Georgia to establish a fund to help finance student-inspired projects inspired by Dr. Yunus’ social business model.
The fund was launched as a result of an economic development conference including 38 student teams from the system’s 35 universities and colleges that competed for the most creative social business project.
Titled “Social Business and Microcredit,” the conference was organized by the university system and held at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Ferst Center on Oct. 17 with 1,200 students and other participants attending.
It was inspired by the work of Nobel Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the concept of providing small loans to people in poverty designed to encourage entrepreneurial activity, a concept now widely known as microcredit.
Dr. Yunus, who was the featured speaker at the conference, described the origins of his concept that social problems can be solved through business models providing a minimum profit to the business in order to sustain a project.
He said that he didn’t want the students to think of their social business projects as an academic exercise, but rather as a way of solving difficult social problems such as domestic violence, adult illiteracy, unemployment and housing.
“This is your age, this is your time,” he told the students. “You are the most powerful generation in the entire history of mankind.” Their challenge, he added, would be to harness the ongoing technological developments to socially useful ends.