Honorary Graduate outlines economic philosophy

Published: 1 December 2008

World-renowned Bangladeshi economist Professor Muhammad Yunus has received an Honorary Degree from the University of Glasgow. Read a full transcript of his Stevenson lecture here.

World-renowned Bangladeshi economist Professor Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago for his life’s work combating global poverty, has received an Honorary Degree from the University of Glasgow.

Professor Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, also delivered the following free public lecture as part of the prestigious Stevenson and Adam Smith Research Foundation lecture series:

Social Business for a New Global Economic Architecture

Distinguished Principal, distinguished members of the faculty of Glasgow University, students, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:

I am very honored to be invited to deliver the Adam Smith lecture at the Glasgow University.  It is an honor and a privilege for me to be here as part of the celebrations to mark the 250th Anniversary of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Thank you for inviting me here.

Adam Smith provided the conceptual framework of capitalism.  It has been improved and elaborated along its long history.  In the meantime the world has changed enormously.  The need for reviewing the basic structure of capitalism has been felt on many occasions.  But it has never been felt as strongly as it is being felt today.  Capitalism is in serious crisis.  Even so, no-one is calling for it to be abandoned  and move on to some other system, such as socialism, because everybody is convinced that with all its faults capitalism is still a better system.  But there is a strong feeling in favour of a major overhaul of the system.  I'll try to explain in my lecture today why I think one major change in the theoretical framework of capitalism will allow individuals to express themselves in multi-dimensional ways and address the problems left behind or created by the existing conceptual framework.  My proposal is very consistent with what Adam Smith had elaborated so brilliantly 250 years back in his The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Rude Awakening

We are living in a time of unparalleled prosperity which is fuelled in part by revolutions in knowledge, science, technology particularly, information technology.  This prosperity changed the lives of many, while billions of people suffer from poverty, hunger, and diseases.  At the same time the world is in deep crisis. Several major crises have combined forces bringing misery and frustration in the lives of the bottom 3 billion people.

Twenty-first century began with dreams to achieve great things for mankind for the first time.  These dreams were encapsulated in the UN initiative known as Millennium Development Goals.  They are convinced about the possibilities for all the people on this planet.  But we have not succeeded in unwrapping those possibilities to make use of them.

In the last 50 years, capitalism reigned supreme.  Socialist economies faded away and were replaced by the capitalist system.  This system has brought unprecedented wealth and prosperity to many countries and many people.  Many felt relieved that finally we found a perfect system which will lead us to find solutions to all our problems.  But soon a realization came that despite all this prosperity, billions of people are left behind.

The current year 2008 will go down in history as the year of rude awakening about the gross weaknesses in the system. Suddenly the year produced several unprecedented crises at the same time, one super-imposed on another — a) food price crisis, b) oil price crisis, c) financial crisis, and d) the ever-worsening environmental crisis.

Everybody is watching the world situation in disbelief.   Everything is crumbling down right before the people who thought they had full understanding and control over the global system.

Food Crisis

A few months before we could know that the financial collapse is imminent, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported a dreadful news — more than 73 million people in 78 countries were facing the reality of reduced food rations.  We saw headlines reporting news of a sort many people assumed we would never experience again: skyrocketing prices for staple foodstuffs like grains and vegetables (wheat alone having risen in price by 200 percent since the year 2000); food shortages in many countries; rising rates of death from malnutrition; even food riots threatening the stability of countries around the globe.

Since the latest peak in global food prices (which occurred in June, 2008), prices have gone down, bringing a bit of short-term relief to millions. These high food prices have created tremendous pressure in the lives of poor people, for whom basic food can consume as much as two-thirds of their income.

And while short-term relief efforts are essential to stave off the immediate effects of food shortages and prevent widespread famine, it’s also important to step back and take a look at the broader causes of the crisis — to consider how the evolution of the world economy and, in particular, of the system whereby food is produced and distributed has led us to today’s dilemma.  Perhaps surprisingly, the economic, political, and business practices of the developed world have a profound impact on the availability of food in the poor nations of the world.  Thus, solving the global food problem will require a redesign of international framework, not merely a series of local or even regional reforms.

The Green Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, increased crop yields in Asia and Latin America and made many countries that had been reliant on food imports self-sufficient.  Rates of hunger and malnutrition dropped significantly.  The high-yield grain production made possible by the Green Revolution has been credited with saving the lives of up to a billion people.

Now, however, a series of interrelated trends has partially reversed the gains that the Green Revolution produced.

Part of the problem has been the way in which globalization of food markets has been managed over the past three decades.  I am a strong proponent of free trade; I believe that encouraging people and nations to exchange goods and services with one another will, in the long run, lead to greater prosperity for all.  But like all markets, global markets need reasonable rules that will allow all participants an opportunity to benefit.

Today’s global markets, unfortunately, are only partly free, and some of the restrictions and distortions that have been left in place have had devastating consequences for poor nations. 

The imbalances caused by this semi-free trade are distorting markets, raising prices, and even destroying agriculture in poor countries that once boasted enormous food surpluses.

Fuel or Food?

Subsidies for ethanol in countries like the U.S. are one example of this problem.  Intended to encourage the growth of corn and soy to partially replace fossil fuels in gasoline, these subsidies may have made sense when oil cost $20 a barrel.  They were designed to make it economically viable to use biofuels as a partial substitute for relatively cheap and abundant oil — and they worked as intended, as shown by the fact that, in 2007, fully one quarter of the maize (corn) crop in the U.S. was used to manufacture ethanol.  But these same subsidies cannot be justified when oil is at over $50 a barrel — nor can the continuing subsidies for oil production enjoyed by large, highly profitable firms like ExxonMobil.  Both sets of subsidies distort markets, lead to unintended ecological, social, and economic consequences, and should be phased out as quickly as possible.  Otherwise, they will continue to drive up the price of basic foodstuffs both directly and indirectly, including by diverting farmland and other agricultural resources to the production of fuel rather than food.

Food Versus Feed

Increased demand for meat has also distorted food price structures and contributed to worldwide food shortages.  Growing prosperity in some of the world’s poorest nations is, of course, a wonderful thing.  Over the past three decades, millions of people have been able to lift themselves out of poverty thanks to increased access to free markets, technological developments, and programs such as microcredit that make capital for investments available to those who were once shut out of the capitalist system.

But prosperity is bringing its own challenges.  The amount of meat eaten by the typical Chinese citizen has increased from 20 kilograms per year in 1958 to over 50 kilograms today.  Similar increases have been seen in other large countries such as India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, which together with China make up nearly half the world's population.  Not only can more and more people in these countries now afford meat, but they are shifting to meat (and away from more traditional, low-meat diets) as part of their adoption of a “modern prosperous” lifestyle.

Unfortunately, meat-eating is a relatively inefficient use of natural resources, as the number of nutritious calories delivered by meat is far lower than the calories humans can enjoy through direct intake of grains.  Yet today, more and more grain and other foodstuffs being used to feed cattle rather than human beings.  By some measures, up to a third of the world’s grain production, as well as third of the global fish catch, is being used to feed livestock.  And more and more of the planet’s farmlands are being diverted from the production of food for human consumption and toward the growing of grains for cattle feed, adding several costly steps to the process by which human life will ultimately be sustained.

As a result of dysfunctional agricultural choices such as the decision to shift land use toward ethanol and meat production, even basic foods are becoming more expensive.

There are still other factors worsening the current food crisis for the developing nations.  One of these is the growing difficulty for farmers in poor nations to compete in the increasingly global food markets.

In effect, farmers in the developing nations are suffering from the necessity to compete against large-scale producers in the developed nations.  It’s a one-sided battle that, so far, has led to devastating results for the poor farmers of the world.

Increasing corporate control of agricultural resources is also harming farmers in the developing world.  As large agribusinesses take near-monopoly control over seed stocks as well as control over supplies of costly synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, more and more small farms are driven out of business, unable to afford the supplies they need to compete in the new global food market.  The rising cost of oil is a significant factor here, too.  For example, many fertilizers are petroleum-based, which means that every increase in the cost of a barrel of oil drives up the cost of fertilizer.  The World Bank reports that, over the past five years, fertilizer prices have risen by 150 percent.  Of course, high oil prices also drive up the cost of irrigation, running other farm equipments, delivering goods to market, and shipping foods to and from processing plants.

All of these economic and social problems are growing worse just as global environmental trends are threatening the future of agriculture around the world.  Climate change, drought, and deforestation are turning vast areas that were once fertile farmlands into deserts.  The UN reports that, every year, an area equivalent to the entire country of Ukraine is lost to farming because of climate change.  What’s more, if current global warming trends continue, over the next century, rising sea levels can be expected to flood almost one third of the world’s farmland.  It is easy to imagine what is happening to Bangladesh, world's most densely populated country, which is a flat country with 20% of land below one-meter above the sea level, as sea-level keeps rising consistently.  It is an emerging case of environmental disaster turning immediately into human disaster.

Financial Crisis

After we have seen the food crisis, oil price crisis, environmental crisis, then came the biggest crisis of all — the crushing collapse of the US financial system.  Giant financial institutions, auto-makers are going down or kept alive with unprecedented amount of government bail out packages.  Basic cause of this historical collapse has been presented in various ways, such as, excessive greed in the market place, turning market into a gambling casino, irresponsible capitalism, failure of the regulatory institution, etc.  Credit markets were originally created to serve human needs—to provide business people with capital to start or expand companies.  In return for these services, bankers and other lenders earned a reasonable profit.  Everyone benefited.  In recent years, however, the credit markets have been distorted by a relative handful of individuals and companies with a different goal in mind — to earn unrealistically high rates of return through clever feats of financial engineering. They repackaged mortgages and other loans into sophisticated instruments whose risk level and other characteristics were hidden or disguised.  Then they sold and resold these instruments, earning a slice of profit on every transaction.  All the while, investors eagerly bid up the prices, scrambling for unsustainable growth; and gambling that the underlying weakness of the system would never come to light.

Because of the globalisation, this financial tsunami is spreading all over the world.  Stock-markets all over the world are reporting on daily basis how companies and individuals are losing trillions of dollars.  But it is not the rich who will be the worst sufferer of this financial crisis, rather it will be the bottom 3 billion people on this planet who are not responsible in any way in creating this crisis.  Rich people will lose a lot of their wealth, but they'll still be left with a lot.  Their life style will not be affected materially.  With the slow down of the economy the bottom 3 billion people will face job and income losses.

Financial crisis is so shocking that the world leaders and media forgot that 2008 is also the year of several other crises.  We have only seen the beginning of these crises in 2008; it is going to be a long and painful period ahead.  Combined effects of the financial crisis, the food crisis the energy crisis, and the environmental crisis on the bottom 3 billion, are going will unfold in the coming months and years.

World leaders' overriding concern for the emergency situation on the financial front is quite understable.  While financial crisis should get the topmost priority it should not be seen and considered as a problem of high finance only.  This narrow view of the financial crisis is likely to create global social and political problems.  Human aspect of the financial crisis must be integrated into all policy packages.  Appropriate thing would be to treat all crises as one crisis, since all are linked together.  So far governments have kept themselves busy in coming up with super-size bail-out packages for the institutions which were responsible for creating the financial crisis, no bail-out package of any size was even discussed for the "victims" of the crisis — the 3 billion bottom people and the planet.

I am repeatedly urging that this mega-crisis be taken as a mega-opportunity to redesign the existing economic and financial systems.

Capitalism is Half-Done Structure

Even if we can overcome the problem of financial crisis and food crisis, we will still be left with energy crisis and environmental crisis along with some fundamental questions about the effectiveness of capitalism in tackling many other unresolved problems. In my view the theoretical framework of capitalism that is in practice today is a half-done structure.

Adam Smith's "invisible hand" could not do a good job in a half-done market.  His The Wealth of Nations drew all the attention while The Theory of Moral Sentiments remained ignored.  This could have been the foundation of the other half of the market — the market which caters to the social consciousness of the people.

Present theory of capitalism holds that the marketplace is only for those who are interested in making money, for the people who are interested in profit only. This interpretation of human being in the theory treats people as one-dimensional beings. But people are multi dimensional, as Adam Smith saw it two and a half centuries back. While they have their selfish dimension, at the same time, they also have their selfless dimension. Capitalism, and the marketplace that has grown up around the theory, makes no room for the selfless dimension of the people. If self sacrificing drive and motivation that exist in people could be brought into the business world to make impact on the problems that face the world, there would be very few problems that we could not solve.

Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments begins with the following assertion that “How selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous or the humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.”
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith asks that most fundamental question: Why do we regard certain actions or intentions with approval and condemn others? At the time, opinion was divided: some held that the only standard of right and wrong was the law and the sovereign who made it; others, that moral principles could be worked out rationally, like the theorems of mathematics.

Smith took the view that people are born with a moral sense, just as they have inborn ideas of beauty or harmony. Our conscience tells us what is right and wrong: and that is something innate, not something given us by lawmakers or by rational analysis. And to bolster it we also have a natural fellow-feeling, which Smith calls "sympathy". Between them, these natural senses of conscience and sympathy ensure that human beings can and do live together in orderly and beneficial social organizations.

The Wealth of Nations is probably misinterpreted as an argument that all will be well if people are allowed to follow "self-interest".  The world interpreted "self-interest" as equal to profit maximization.  Human beings as they are, their "self-interest" includes both profit maximization and social contribution.  That's what Adam Smith elaborated in The Theory of Moral Sentiments which attached great importance to Justice and other moral virtues, perhaps to clarify the boundaries of "self-interest".

The present structure of the economic theory does not allow these dimensions of people to play out in the market place.  I argue that given the opportunity, people will come into the market place to express their selfless urges by running special types of businesses, let us call them social businesses, to make a change in the world. In the absence of such opportunity in the market place people express their selflessness through charities. Charitable efforts have been with us always, and they are noble, and they are needed. But we have seen that business is more capable to innovate, to expand, to reach more and more people through the power of the free market. Imagine what we could achieve if talented entrepreneurs and business executives around the world devoted themselves in ending, say, malnutrition in a business format except that these businesses will have no intention to making money for their investors.

Social Business

With this in mind, I am proposing a different structure of the market itself; I am proposing a second type of business to operate in the same market along with the existing kind of profit maximizing business. I am not opposed to the existing type of business (although I call for many improvements in it like many others do.) I am proposing a new business in addition to the existing one. This new type of business I am calling “social business,” because it is for the collective benefit of others.

This is a business whose purpose is to address and solve social problems, not to make money for its investors. It is a non-loss non-dividend company. Investor can recoup his investment capital. Beyond that no profit to be taken out as dividends by the investors. These profits remain with the company and are used to expand its out reach, improve the quality of the product or service it provides, and design methods to bring down the cost of the product or service. If the efficiency, the competitiveness, the dynamism of the business world could be harnessed to deal with specific social problems, the world would be a much better place.

The concept of a social business crystallized in my mind through my experience with Grameen companies. Over the years, Grameen created a series of companies to address different problems faced by the poor in Bangladesh. Whether it is a company to provide renewable energy or a company to provide healthcare or yet another company to provide information technology to the poor, we were always motivated by the need to address the social need. We always designed them as profitable companies, but only to ensure its sustainability so that the product or service could reach more and more of the poor - and on an ongoing basis. In all these cases the social need was the only consideration, making personal money was no consideration at all. That is how I realized that businesses could be built that way, from the ground up, around the specific social need, without motive for personal gain.
The concept of social business got international attention when we launched a joint venture with Danone, a multinational company from France.

Grameen has teamed up with Danone to bring nutritious fortified yogurt to the undernourished children of rural Bangladesh. The aim of this social business is to fill the nutritional gap in the diet of these children. We sell the yogurt to the poor children to make the company self sustaining. Beyond the investment capital, neither Grameen nor Danone will make money from this venture, by agreement. We have one plant already operating in Bangladesh, and we hope to have 50 such plants throughout the country.

We have built an eye care hospital on social business principles. We have created a joint-venture with Veolia of France to deliver safe drinking water in the villages of Bangladesh.  Under the company we are building a small water treatment plant in a rural part of Bangladesh to bring clean water to 50,000 villagers, in an area where existing supply of water is highly arsenic contaminated.  We will sell the water at a very affordable price to the villagers to make the company sustainable, but no financial gain will come to Grameen or Veolia.  Now more and more companies are coming forward to partner with us to set up new social businesses. We feel excited in creating a series of examples of social businesses, which, hopefully will encourage others to join in.

Some people are skeptical. Who will create these businesses? Who will run these businesses? I always say that, to begin with, there is no dearth of philanthropists in the world, no dearth of donor countries giving grants. People give away billions of dollars.  Donor countries give away billions of dollars.  Imagine if those billions could be used in a social business way to help people. These billions will be recycled again and again, and the social impact could be all that much more powerful. CSR money of the companies could easily go into social businesses. Each company can create its own range of social businesses.   We can create Social Business Funds to pool funds and invest them in social businesses.

Business Owned By the Poor

>Even profit maximizing companies can be social businesses if they are owned by the poor. This constitutes a second type of social business. Grameen Bank falls under this category of social business. It is owned by its poor borrowers.

The borrowers buy Grameen Bank shares with their own money, and these shares cannot be transferred to non-borrowers. A committed professional team does the day-to-day running of the bank.

Bilateral and multi-lateral donors could easily create this type of social businesses. When a donor gives a loan or a grant to build a bridge in the recipient country, it could create instead a "bridge company" owned by the local poor. A committed management company could be given the responsibility of running the company. Profit of the company will go to the local poor as dividend, and towards building more bridges. Many infrastructure projects, like roads, highways, airports, seaports, utility companies could all be built in this manner.

Once the concept of social business is included in the economic theory, thousands of people will come forward to invest in the social business because they all have those social dreams in their hearts. We will need to create social stock markets to channel these funds to appropriate social businesses.

Social Stock Market

To connect investors with social businesses, we need to create social stock market where only the shares of social businesses will be traded. An investor will come to this stock-exchange with a clear intention of finding a social business, which has a mission of his or her liking. Anyone who wants to make money will go to the existing stock-market.

To enable a social stock-exchange to perform properly, we will need to create rating agencies, standardization of terminology, definitions, impact measurement tools, reporting formats, and new financial publications, such as, The Social Wall Street Journal, new media, such as, Social Bloomberg. Business schools will offer courses and business management degrees on social businesses to train young managers how to manage social businesses in the most efficient manner, and, most of all, to inspire them to become social business entrepreneurs themselves.


We live in a globalized world, for better or for worse. What we do in one part of the world  has a direct impact on another. We are now connected and inter dependent in an unprecedented way. This can be a good thing, this can be a bad thing. Good waves spread quickly. So do the bad waves. Shock-waves from the collapse of the financial system in the USA is being transmitted globally.  The whole world now suffers for something which happened in the USA.

Wrong doings of the rich world impact on the lives of the poor people very heavily. Life-style of the North can make lives in the South unsustainable.
The issue of climate change and how this will affect the earth, and how human beings will continue to survive on this planet is a very good example of this.

The world has many resources but much of it is non renewable. We have to understand that the patterns of our consumption, and the path to development that the world is taking could seriously endanger our future on this planet. The food crisis is in part caused by changes in climate patterns caused, scientists believe, due to global warming.

My country, Bangladesh is singled out very often as a country that will be most affected, and most quickly, by the effects of climate change. As we all live in the same world, we have to understand that we all have to share this world with everyone today, and also with future generations.

We have to design a new global economic architecture to make sure one person's enjoyment of life does not take away right of survival of another person.  Similarly, the enjoyment of life of one generation does not put another generation in peril.

Role of Social Businesses in Globalization

I support globalization and believe it can bring more benefits to the poor than its any alternative. But it must be the right kind of globalization. To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway criss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaws will be thrown off the highway. In order to have a win-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, and traffic authority for this global highway. Rule of "strongest takes it all" must be replaced by rules that ensure that the poorest have a place and piece of the action, without being elbowed out by the strong. Globalization must not become financial imperialism.

Powerful multi-national social businesses can be created to retain the benefit of globalization for the poor people and poor countries. Social businesses will either bring ownership to the poor people, or keep the profit within the poor countries, since taking dividends will not be their objective. Direct foreign investment by foreign social businesses will be exciting news for recipient countries. Building strong economies in the poor countries by protecting their national interest from plundering companies will be a major area of interest for the social businesses.

Worst Crises Are the Best Opportunities

Most important, the current mega-crisis should not take away the resources of the donors and the attention of their leaders from the world's search for long-term global solutions. Instead it should invite the attention of leaders and donors to see this as a mega opportunity to integrate and prioritize long-term problems in their integrated solution packages.

The current multiple-crises offer us all a valuable lesson in inter-connectedness of the human family.  The fate of Lehman Brothers and the poor sisters working in the garment factory in Bangladesh are linked together.  The fate of a rice farmer in Bangladesh, a maize farmer in Mexico, and a maize farmer in Iowa are all intertwined; and while short-term trends may appear to benefit a few of us at the expense of many others, in the long-run, only policies that will allow all the peoples of the world share their progress are truly sustainable.

In the coming months the multiple-crises will reveal more of its ramifications in economic terms and human terms.  This is the time to bring the world together to face this crisis in a well planned and well managed way;  to take this crisis as the best opportunity to design and put in place a new economic and financial architecture in such a way that this type of crisis will never recur again, long-standing global problems will be addressed decisively, incoherence and deficiencies  of the current economic and financial order will be removed finally.

The most important feature of this new global economic architecture will be to bring the half-done theoretical framework of capitalism to completion by including second type of business, the social business, in the market place.  Once it is included in the framework, it can play very important roles in solving the financial crisis, food crisis, energy crisis and environmental crisis. Also it will be is the most effective institutional mechanism to resolve the unresolved problems of poverty and ill-health.  Social business can address all the problems which are left behind by the profit-making businesses, at the same time it can tone down the excesses of the profit-making businesses.

We can start introducing social businesses in the bail-out packages for the bottom 3 billion people, by creating a global social business fund to provide loans and equity for:

a) Expansion of microcredit programs
b) Other poverty reduction programs
c) Technology
d) Anything related to agriculture (such as, agricultural credit, local, national, international marketing, storage, introduction of new technology, insurance, ensuring better price, and better wage, supply of inputs, etc.)
e) Healthcare and health insurance
f) Environment and renewable energy
g) Globalisation to work for the poor 

Poverty can be overcome

As we devote ourselves in crafting a new economic and social architecture, in the mean time what would the members of the young generation, such as, you, be getting ready for ? I see one exciting option for you --- to list all the features of the new world you want to create, and then work for it.  I hope among all the features in your wish-list an important one will be to create a world without poverty.

The thought that always energizes me is that the poverty is not created by the poor people.  Poverty is an artificial imposition on the people.  Poor people are endowed with the same unlimited potential of creativity and energy that any human being in any station of life, any where in the world.  It is a question of removing the barriers faced by poor people to unleash their creativity to solve their problems.  They can change their lives, only if we give them the same opportunity that we get.  Creatively designed social businesses in all sectors can make this unleashing happen in the fastest way.

I always insist that poverty does not belong in civilized society. Poverty belongs only in the museum where our children and grandchildren can go to see what inhumanity people had to suffer, and where they will ask themselves how there ancestors allowed such a condition to persist for so long.

You, the next generation, have to make a pledge that it will be your generation who will design and ensure the elimination of poverty from this planet.

We overcame slavery. We overcame apartheid. We have done other things that people once thought impossible. We have put persons on the moon, into space to explore far away worlds. We can overcome poverty, if only we decide that this does not belong to the world that you want to create. It is up to your generation to decide the world you choose to live in will not contain the scourge of poverty.

You Can Make it Happen

We are fortunate enough to have been born in an age of great ideas and great technologies.  A lot will rely on your asking yourself "What use do I want to make of my creative talent?" Do you want to focus exclusively on making money by using your talent? If you must, go ahead;  but while  making money through profit maximizing businesses do make sure that your businesses make positive impact on people’s lives, and that, at least, it does not make any  negative impact. Alternatively, you could use all of your talent to change the world by harnessing the power of creative social businesses to address human and social needs.

You can do both types of businesses. Doing both is an attractive idea too. Making money through responsible profit-maximizing businesses could be the means, while using that money for social businesses could be the exciting end.

The solutions to many of our world’s pressing problems could be accelerated through the creation of social businesses.

It is up to you to make it happen.

You will be the true economic person Adam Smith had in mind.

Thank you.

Muhammad Yunus
Grameen Bank

[Lecture delivered on Monday 1 December 2008]

First published: 1 December 2008