Muhammad Yunus is microfinance pioneer, founder of Grameen Bank, and a leader in the movement for social business. His work in creating businesses that do good to people and solve social problems earned him the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Inclusion is a key component of his approach to business.
There has been much written in the last couple of years about Yunus’ (timely) vision for social business, a form of business that keeps all the mechanisms through which a normal profit-making businesses works and prospers, e.g., capitalization, expert business management, and competitiveness; yet investors in the social business receive no dividends (though they can recover and/or re-invest their investment if they want to).
Yunus’ 2008 book Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism reads as a manifesto for social business. On my reading of it, I was struck by how the inclusive nature of social business aligns nicely with the collaborative way of doing things. The goal of social business is not to replace other types of business (e.g., profit-maximizing business); rather it is that “social business adds … another dimension to a free market economy.” Social business widens the circle.
I’ve identified 7 ways that a social business is an ‘inclusive’ approach to conducting business. Social businesses:
- incorporate the best of profit-making business; e.g., management expertise
- bring opportunity for entrepreneurs not driven by the profit motive, e.g., those motivated by social goals
- create relationships with other types of business; e.g., profit-maximizing business
- attract those wanting to create innovative structures and partnerships to address today’s complex social problems; e.g. the partnership between Danone (France) and Grameen (Bangladesh) to address food and nutrition problems in Bangladesh
- offer opportunity for others to invest and participate in a market economy; e.g., the poor, by leveraging information communication technologies
- recognize the capacities of others to solve their own problems; e.g., through community self-enforcement
- engage sustainability; e.g., through re-investment of profits generated by the business
What other ways can you suggest?
There’s lots of good online resources about Yunus, his ideas, and social business, including this Yunus’ Authors@Google talk given in 2008 and here.
Look around what opportunity do you see for a social business?
Photo credit: Yodel Anecdotal