Social business: a tool to fix social ills | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 29, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 29, 2012

Social business: a tool to fix social ills

Experts speak on poverty and microcredit on Social Business Day

Social business has become a proven tool to address social problems across the world thanks to its unique features, experts said yesterday.
Social business, as defined by Prof Muhammad Yunus, is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social cause.
It differs from non-profit organisations in that social business seeks to generate profit but for the purpose of expanding the company's reach, improving the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission.
“This distinguishes it from the conventional model,” said Dr Aziz Akgul, managing director of Muhammad Yunus International Centre for Microfinance and Social Business at Turkey's Okan University.
According to Akgul, social business and microfinance are complementary to each other.
“Social business is a tool for handling different social problems relating to education, health, water and poverty,” said Akgul. “But microfinance works only to address poverty through offering credit to the poor. So there is no scope for contradiction between these two terms.”
He spoke at a panel discussion on microfinance and social business organised by Yunus Centre at Gonoshasthaya Kendro in Savar, as part of Social Business Day festivity.
“Most countries are now facing different social problems, but it is not possible to address all problems only by the government,” said Jürgen Hammer, chief investment officer of Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation.
Social businesses can play a significant role in this regard as it works for social causes along with the government, said Hammer whose foundation is now trying to create a fund of 20 million euros to promote social businesses.
Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation, Hammer added, has received great response
on its poverty-focused microcredit programmes in Cambodia.
Parveen Mahmud, managing director of Grameen Telecom Trust, said ample evidence exists of microcredit's capacity to reduce poverty substantially through offering small loans to the poor.
“Our poverty rate has come down to 31 percent,” said Mahmud, “It is a significant achievement for a country.”
She added that microcredit, owing to its dealings with mainly unbanked people, lends good opportunity for self employment.
“Every human being has the potential to be an entrepreneur.”
Professor HI Latifee, managing director of Grameen Trust, who moderated the session, supplemented Mahmud's implication of microcredit's ability to create self-employment.
“It is proven tool for creating self-employment worldwide, and hence is becoming increasingly popular.”
Jannat-e-Quanine, general manager of Grameen Bank, said microcredit is the brainchild of Yunus as he introduced the programme in Zobra village in Chittagong with $27 investment.
It has now become an enterprise of 83 lakh borrower-owners, with 95 percent of them being women, added Jannat.
Professor Luisa Brunori of University of Bologna, Italy, said microcredit can be a “win-win” game for both the poor and the government.

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