About

My name is Sabine McNeill and I am creating this site because, thanks to Chris Macrae, I read “Creating a World without Poverty – Social Business and the Future of Capitalism” by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

Based on my experience of organising the Forum for Stable Currencies at the House of Lords, I am deeply committed to making a difference to the future of capitalism. Hence I stuck my neck out to make an event happen at St. James’s Piccadilly for Dr. Yunus. At only three weeks notice, a volunteer co-organiser materialised in the guise of Dr. Lilly Evans who has also become a valued co-author here.

The book consists of 3 parts:

  1. The Promise of Social Business
  2. The Grameen Experiment
  3. A World without Poverty.

In Chapter 1, Dr. Yunus addresses the following issues:

  • institutions have failed us
  • poverty is not getting less but is increasing
  • the current development framework isn’t good enough
  • poverty is not a problem of the poor but of society
  • capitalism is a ‘half-developed structure’ with a ‘conceptualisation failure’.

As a professor of economics, he addresses the growth dilemma and aims at a Social Stock Market. He has a chapter on New Yardsticks for Evaluating Business and Bringing Meaning to Business Life. For making money out of money and for the sake of making money does not give us satisfaction.

Credit Comes First and Charity is not Always the Answer are other chapter titles. In fact, he calls charity ‘trickle-down economics’. His secret for making the Grameen Bank happen was ‘credit without collateral’.

I have been advocating Green Credit for governments which is exactly what microcredit is for illiterate women in Bangladesh: credit without collateral.

Social Business‘ as defined by Dr. Yunus, is the 3rd way between ‘capital as usual’ and ‘philanthropic investment’:

  • addressing social objectives of health, education and the environment, i.e. climate change
  • leaving profits in the business after investments have been paid back, i.e. investors need to contribute if they want to be paid
  • empowering the poor and the disadvantaged to own social businesses, i.e. women
    • in London, the probability is 2.5% for women getting funding – according to one of the Directors of Trapezia, the first venture capital fund for women.

All this boils down to the ethical question: are you just charitable and play what Yunus calls ‘trickle-down economics’ or do you put your money where your social objectives are?

PS. The header photo is taken in São Jorge, Azores, Portugal, as I learned through the community of WordPress theme designers.

Responses

  1. Access to credit should be recognised as human right

    Says Dr Yunus : The Daily Star Report Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Lehman College of the City University of New York honoured Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus with the President’s Medal at a reception ceremony in New York on Sunday. The photo shows Dr Yunus holding the medal at the programme. Photo: News World

    Terming poverty an artificial problem created by society, Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus said access to credit should be recognised as a basic human right.

    “Poverty is a fault in our system. Unfortunate people should not be held responsible for it; they are victims of this artificial problem created by society,” he said at a reception accorded to him at Lehman College of the City University of New York on Sunday.

    The phenomenal success of micro-credit in various countries of the world has proved that
    the poverty-stricken people can do wonders if they are given opportunities, he added.

    Lehman College President Dr Ricardo R Fernandez gave away the President’s Medal to
    Dr Yunus at the programme in recognition of his innovative economic ideas, humanitarian efforts, and contribution toward world peace, according
    to News World, a New York-based news agency.

    Muslim Public Affairs Council of the USA also presented Human Security Award to him at another programme in New York the same day.

    Dr Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, said two-thirds of people of the world have been deprived of credit facilities. As a result, they cannot participate in economy and this is a major cause of poverty.

    These people can do wonders if they are given opportunities, he added.

    Dr Yunus said three lakh ( 300 thousand ) women in rural areas are currently using Grameen Phone to earn a livelihood, but this business has become increasingly competitive.

    So, the Grameen Bank is now planning to
    provide women with Internet facilities as another mode of business, he added.

    He also said that Grameen Bank is the only bank whose shareholders are those who receive loans from it.

    It is not possible to alleviate poverty through charity or donation, Dr Yunus said and stressed the need for social business, which can ensure the welfare of the people.

    He also cited the investment of Danone in Bangladesh as an example of social business.

    At the reception ceremony hosted by Muslim Public Affairs Council, Jewish religious leader Rabbi Mac Senior said Dr Muhammad Yunus
    could act as a bridge between Islam and other religions.

    Islam is a religion of peace and the Holy Quran does not support terrorism, he said, adding that those carrying out terrorist activities in the name of Islam can never be friends of religion and humanity.

    Collated by Brother Shafi Chowdhury

  2. I made a visit to the Grameen-Danone Food plant at Bogra, Bangladesh on 22nd March 2008 out of an inner urge to see the project by myself.

    I made a post on the visit in my blog http://bdoza.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/a-visit-to-grameen-danone-a-model-pf-social-business/

  3. Many thanks indeed, dear Badrud!

    What a pity that you missed meeting Dr. Yunus at the plant.

    I think ANY initiative that gives meaningful work to people us applaudable. Any effort where LABOUR is more appreciated than CAPITAL is inherently good, methinks.

    But: there is a whole discussion on ‘performance metrics’, i.e. the attempt to measure and quantify what is really difficult to compare: quality of life, job satisfaction, finding meaning and happiness through work.

    And thus we’re talking about mindsets and attitudes as the main stumbling blocks as Dr. Yunus has identified, too.

    Good to talk to you!

    May lots of people visit your blog! Am I right that you are a pediatrician? Did I pick that up whilst ‘blog-trotting’ across the wonders of the web?

    With ‘globally warm’ regards,
    Sabine

  4. You are right but I want to keep my identities separate.

  5. An interesting discussion is going on Dr. Muhammad Yunus as a role model in ‘Unheard Voice’

    http://www.drishtipat.org/blog/2008/04/04/is-this-man-a-good-role-model-for-bangladeshi-youth/#comments

  6. I like your summary of social business here and your inspiration derived from the book. It is indeed the book that has led me to this blog. (just finished reading!! – and started googling)
    I’d like to post a link to this from an conversation ongoing about social venture capital- wanted to check that is okay with you?
    Thanks,
    biobuzz.wordpress.com

  7. Dear Biobuzz

    Thank You for your compliments! Well, if there was a fund that specialised in social businesses, I would be really game!

    Meanwhile we each have to keep trying in our own little way…

    S

  8. Hi Sabine,

    Thanks so much for your insight, inspiration to help create a much better system that teaches people to fish instead of just giving them a fish.

    The world is hungry for new enlightened solutions that add value to peoples lives and gives them hope that there are compassionate, caring, ethical people who work from the heart instead of the pocket with big EFG: Ego, Fear, Greed Mentality which sucks….

  9. Many thanks, dear Robert!

    Yes, we need the ideas and the models, before we can make a difference our own way.

    I didn’t think it would be that difficult to create interest in ‘social business’ in London. But it’s not too late, and maybe I’ll start in Berlin!

    Will keep you posted!
    S

  10. Sabine,

    I will meet up with the key people here in London like Sophia when she gets back from visiting Prof. Yunus in Dhakka. Lets find a way to make it happen.
    Namaste.

  11. [...] great, for Bartercard could be a social business in the way that Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Dr. Muhammad Yunus thinks the future of capitalism could be influenced by people like you and me – despite the [...]

  12. Dr. Yunus is a genius with a heart. His success in Bangladesh has encouraged the opening up of numerous microfinance banks in the developing world, but it’s still sad to see that most of these banks continue to worry about profits.

  13. Yes, Mark,

    People have to learn a LOT as they organise community banks. They will be constantly tempted to dip into the pot that belongs to everybody and to exploit rather than empower “everybody”, i.e. the membership / clients / users.

    We will be tempted by materialistic opportunities all our lives, I guess, and have to learn to make our choices!

  14. i agree. but the cold truth is, as someone recently told me, nobody does favors to others in the corporate world. i was shocked for a while. compassion has been separated from business and that is what Dr. Yunus tried to revive. But at the end of the day, banks (whether they are commercial banks or microfinance banks) will be worried about profits.

  15. As long as we make sure that we are “on the right side” of the “ethical coin”, we can live and die in peace. And that’s what matters most, methinks.

  16. Hi Sabine! My guest post is finally ready. I’m sorry it took so long, but I was waiting to upgrade my domain first. Unfortunately, I can’t find your email on this site. So please get in touch with me at fehmeenk@gmail.com and I’ll mail it to you!

  17. Dear Sabine!

    Thank you for your useful resource on the Internet!
    It is possible to get a loan in Britain today 300 000,00 dollars for 1 year without collateral? I provide 15-25% weekly.

    Best regards from BELARUS!
    skype: IHARK57

  18. Dear Sabine!,

    Your initiative is really encouraging. Together we can change world. Yes! Another world is possible without poverty.

  19. Many thanks, dear Abdul!

    We first need to know and understand the principles of micro-credit and social business.

    Then we can create or participate them.

    And together, we grow and change…


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