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Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Our readers would love to know about your book Three Zeroes- Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment and Zero Net Carbon Emission.

This book talks about the idea which I propagate- no poverty as well as no unemployment. The book questions the economic system which makes faulty assumptions. They presume that humans are run only by their selfishness. But actually humans are a combination of selfishness and selflessness, but the economic tycoons forget to acknowledge the positive aspect. I create business based on selfishness but I use selflessness in business to deal with human issues.

What is the model of your business?

We call it social business, in this many businesses, industries and corporate bodies come together to create social businesses. This is the quintessential element to fix the conventional flaw. Another fault is, we have been trained since the start that jobs are the most important thing and we have to get one. We are born entrepreneurs and we have two paths either to work under someone or become the ones generating jobs. The issue of unemployment can be eradicated once people develop the sense that they should accomplish what they want to instead of blindly following the treaded path.

What developments since the global financial crisis have informed your new book?

One is the enormous speed at which wealth is getting concentrated at the top. It used to be 64 people owned more wealth than the bottom half. Then it was 30. Then it was 12. Today there are only eight. And I’m told that is outdated. Now it is five people who own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent. This is a ticking time bomb, and we have come to the explosive point. But it can be overcome if we fix the two major flaws in the capitalist system.

If you are going to be 100 percent selfless, why not just start a nonprofit?

Social business is a business. To qualify as a business, an enterprise has to produce a good or a service, which is marketed to recover the cost and even generate a surplus. A nonprofit is not a business. It is basically a charity. It does not worry about recovering its cost. These two are not comparable.
Charity addresses people’s problems. Charity money goes out, but it does not come back. Social business money goes out in a business way, and it comes back. It can be used limitless times. As a result, social business money becomes very powerful in terms of its achievement.

Do you credit the reduction in poverty of Bangladesh solely to social business?

The thing we should be talking about is can it be completely eradicated. Social businesses or government hasn’t done that, neither government agencies have done that, but we can see some changes. It needs to be repeated to bring a larger difference.

Most of your clients are women. Why so?

We notice by involving women more money was earned by a family, as compared to the involvement by men. The reason for this is, women are micro planners and they have a vision for the future; men tend to enjoy the moment.

Along with economic changes did you witness social changes as well?

Although the terms of Grameen Bank did ask them to sign that they won’t take dowry, but it wasn’t an obligation. Dowry had always been an issue which women faced, and always wanted to fight against it and it was just a vent to what they wanted. We even asked them and helped them to send their children to school and now hundred percent of the children are in schools.

You entered politics but soon left it, any particular reason for that?

I honestly think I can’t make it. I am better off doing the work I am doing.

About the Interviewee:

Muhammad Yunus, born in Bangladesh, was educated at Dhaka University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. In 1972, he became head of the economics department at Chittagong University. He is the founder of Grameen Bank and the father of microcredit, an economic movement that has helped lift millions of families around the world out of poverty. He is also the creator of social business. Yunus and Grameen Bank are winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and Yunus won the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2013).