Q: Who is Dr. Muhammad Yunus?
Nobel Laureate (2006) Professor Muhammad Yunus envisions a world without poverty. To accomplish this ambitious vision, Professor Yunus pioneered the concept of social business by utilizing microfinance to lift people out of poverty in developing countries by creating self-sustainable businesses. He established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, fueled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. GB has over 8.81 million borrowers, 98 percent of whom are women. With 2,568 branches, GB provides services in 81,392 villages, covering more than 97 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh.
Professor Yunus has been recognized with more than 100 awards from 26 countries, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.
In 2006, Time magazine listed him under “60 Years of Asian Heroes” as one of the top 12 business leaders. In 2012, Fortune magazine named him one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of all times.
Professor Yunus also forged the concept of three zeros: 0 poverty, 0 unemployment, and 0 net carbon emissions. His current focus is on advancing health care in rural areas of Bangladesh.
Q: How many Yunus Social Business Centres are in the U.S.?
Becker College is the first college to establish the only officially sanctioned Yunus Social Business Centre in the USA. Established in the spring of 2015, the Centre is located in Worcester, Massachusetts – the second largest city in Massachusetts.
The mission of Becker College is to deliver to each student a transformational learning experience – anchored by academic excellence, social responsibility, and creative expression – that prepares graduates to thrive, contribute to, and lead in a global society.
Across the country, students petition their higher education institutions to invest funds in more socially conscious ways. In 2015, the Board of Trustees mandated a 100% social impact goal for the College’s endowment. The journey to a 100% social impact investment was completed in June 2017. Becker has taken a proactive step to becoming one of the first institutions of higher education to invest its full endowment toward positively impacting social, environmental, and economic sectors.
With the launch of the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College, the opportunity for a 100% social impact endowment seemed a natural next step. Becker’s commitment makes it possible to achieve social impact with return on investment because innovating for social impact is a core theme of the 21st century.
Q: How many Yunus Social Business Centres are in the world?
There are currently about 52 YSBC’s worldwide.
Q: How does Professor Yunus define social business?
A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social problem. The profits are used to expand the company’s reach and improve the product/service.
The first aim of social business is to achieve the social objective in a financially sustainable way.
It should not give up a social objective to make profit beyond sustainability. Making profit without sacrificing social objective is welcome. Social businesses do not give dividends to the investors, all the profit is reinvested in the company for expansion and improving the quality of the product or service.
Established social businesses can apply business principles to social problems to increase their efficiency, effectiveness, and financial sustainability.
Q: What are the Seven Principles of Social Business according to Professor Yunus?
- Business objective will be to overcome poverty, or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology access, and environment) which threaten people and society; not profit maximization
- Financial and economic sustainability
- Investors get back their investment amount only. No dividend is given beyond investment money.
- When investment amount is paid back, company profit stays with the company for expansion and improvement
- Gender sensitive and environmentally conscious
- Workforce gets market wage with better working conditions
- …do it with joy
Q: How is success measured in a social business?
In a profit-maximizing company, you measure success by the amount of profit made in a given year and developing the prospect of earning more in future years. In a social business company, you measure success by the success achieved in reaching the social goal in specific measurements (reducing the number of malnourished children, reducing the death of infants, number of people receiving safe drinking water, etc.)
Q: Why is it important for businesses to consider starting a social business?
For businesses that are committed to solving social issues, social business activities will enhance their traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs including public, private and donation-based initiatives, as well as employee engagement. Indeed, companies can engage in raising awareness of social issues and solving complex social problems with a business and social mindset while still managing a profit margin.
Companies that want to be recognized as both social institutions and economic enterprises should engage in social business for three reasons:
- To increase reputation value and trust – Companies can infuse their support of social commitments as part of their corporate identity and mission, thus elevating their positive reputation as a responsible and innovative company.
- To impact economic performance – Companies can create new product lines and services that support social issues, drive sales and expand market share.
- To improve employee morale and engagement – To attract and retain top talent, companies can showcase their social values by engaging employees to support chosen social issues through hands-on activities or through their intellectual capital. By living the brand’s values, employees can feel an increased sense of loyalty and pride.
Q: What is the difference between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social business?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are typically the philanthropic programs of companies. CSR is part of a corporation, which is a profit-maximizing company. A social business is a company by itself, which is dedicated to social impact-maximization. A common way of practicing CSR is by donating money for social causes.
Q: Does social business crate valuable non-monetary return?
Yes! The most important one is the “gratification” derived from helping others. People who are doing good for society become role models for others, particularly the young generation. Society as a whole gives them special recognition for their efforts and there is a personal satisfaction that one’s life has positively impacted other people’s lives.
Q: What services does the Yunus Social Business Centre at Becker College offer?
The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College benefits the local community and beyond by:
- Providing myriad opportunities for students and faculty to engage in experiential learning. We address social problems and their root causes, and then generate creative solutions that produce true social impact. The YSBC @ BC is a hub for exploration, innovation, and leadership via community involvement, and service learning near and far;
- Conducting outreach to the business and nonprofit community to develop partnerships aligned with common vision and concern for the common good; and
- Offering resources, consulting, and services encompassing programming, education, and assistance for combining business principles with social objectives to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and financial sustainability.
Q: When and where is Social Business Day recognized?
Every year on July 28-29, the groundbreaking idea of social business is recognized in Dhaka, Bangladesh with Social Business Day. This two-day event features a global conference with world-renowned leaders highlighting new development in social business – see www.muhammadyunus.org for more information.
Q: Who can I contact for more information about the YSBC@BC or ways I can become involved?
Ursula Furi-Perry, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences