“I’m just a guy who lends tiny little money to poor women”
With these words, Muhammad Yunus responded to his introduction and started his lecture today. Looking for this quote in my notebook I notice I have taken ten pages of notes. The lecture started humbly but ended with the words “this is what we do with the means: we change the world.”
I’m inspired. Dr Yunus introduces the notion of Social Business that falls somewhere in the vod between traditional business — who’s aim according to Dr Yunus is to maximize profit — and charity. With charity, according to my notes, each dollar can be spent only once and then has to be raised again. Charities put a lot of effort into fund-raising. With social businesses — a kind of non-profit business who’s aim is to efficiently provide services where they are needed — the cycle is continuous and all surplus income is turned toward expanding the reach of the (social) business. I’ll have to read the book to get the full explanation of what makes these businesses different from existing not-for-profits. But Dr Yunus’s stories of success of Grameen businesses (Grameen Phone,he says, is the largest mobile phone company in Bangladesh) are stirring encouragement to someone interested in alternative economic models and how they can contribute to a more equitable world.