Nobel Laureate, ‘father of microfinance’ and one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time (Fortune Magazine 2012 ranking) Professor Mohammed Yunus recently visited Kenya. In addition to unveiling a $ 5 million fund for social entrepreneurs, he launched a book and gave remarks that left listeners pondering over their views on education, the youth and entrepreneurship.
In his book, “A World of Three Zeros” Professor Yunus calls for the rethinking of free-market capitalism and formation of hybrid social business that border between profit and non-profit. The professor further calls for a turn towards clean energy, focusing on developing countries because such countries are still establishing their energy infrastructure and thus have an opportunity to start ‘green’ from the onset.
The book is a summation of the new economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions-A world of Three Zeros.
Mohammed Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank-currently with 2,600 branches in Bangladesh. The bank is as a result of a 1976 experiment whereas a professor at the University of Chittagong, Yunus gave collateral-free loans to women in a Bangladeshi rural village to test their rate of default. Surprisingly a majority of them paid back in time (mostly due to social pressure stemming from the women’s’ borrowing groups-who lost their ability to get loans if one of their members defaulted) and the loans continued.
Grameen became a fully-fledged bank in 1986 and to date; the Nobel winning organisation has disbursed loans of up to $24 billion to 9 million borrowers. On the other hand, Professor Mohamed Yunus has turned into an advocate for social entrepreneurship, urging people-the world over, to start businesses that aim to solve social problems e.g. poverty, health, unemployment etc.
His recent visit to Kenya has led to the establishment of a $ 5 million non-profit fund that social entrepreneurs will access through local funding organizations. “ The Kenya one is a separate unit as Yunus Social Business Kenya but the idea is the same, to help people who want to solve social problems around us in a social business way. This means we do the business not to take dividends or make money for ourselves but devoted to solving social problems,” said Professor Yunus.
In his public lecture on the Power of Social Business at the Strathmore Business School in Kenya, professor Yunus tore into the trend of relying on conventional education saying, “if an illiterate mother can sustain her business year after year with no education and you are relying on your education to succeed, shame on your education! Our destiny does not lie in getting a job.”
Moreover, professor Yunus displayed a great belief in the youth’s ability to presently effect change, “if I must draw the line on when one becomes an adult, I would choose now because young people now are much more knowledgeable than in our days.
He stated that he believed the millennial generation to be the most powerful generation in the universe, because of their unparalleled ability to use imagination and technology to do anything to transform society.