Nobel Peace Prize winner to advocate ethical business at University summit

Friday 10 May 2013

A Nobel Peace Prize winner and ‘world’s banker to the poor’ will urge young people to use business for social and community benefit at a unique summit at the University of Salford this month.

Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus has helped millions across the world lift themselves out of poverty by making small, unsecured loans available through his community-based Grameen Bank to people who would otherwise be unable to access credit or other financial services.

And now he is hoping to inspire a new generation to set up businesses with a social conscience at the Muhammad Yunus: Building Social Business event to be held at the University on Saturday 18 May.

Yunus is one of only seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, placing him in the company of leaders and visionaries including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Teresa. Since 1976 he has grown the Grameen Bank from $27 he loaned out of his own pocket into an institution which has lent more than $25 billion to 20 million borrowers around the world.

Despite a lack of collateral or signed loan documents, 99% of the loans have been repaid, and the bank provides services to more than 71,000 villages in Bangladesh alone through 2,226 branches. Yunus’s programme now operates in more than 100 countries and the first Grameen branch in the UK is planned to open this summer.

At the summit, Yunus will speak about the importance of social ventures that depart from purely profit-driven business models. He will also urge attendees, including students, members of the public and all those with entrepreneurial spirit, to consider pursuing businesses motivated by social causes rather than profit alone.

Yunus will be joined by a number of speakers from social enterprises including The Big Life Group, Moneyline, Unlimited Potential and CARISMA, who will discuss their work and other ideas around the impact of social businesses on the lives of disadvantaged communities.

The summit will also mark the announcement of the University of Salford’s Centre for Social Business, a new body which will work in partnership with local, national and international groups and organisations to develop social business research, teaching and projects.

Colin McCallum, Executive Director of University Advancement, said: “Yunus’s ideas stem from his belief that every human being has the spark of potential within them, but that society and circumstance often prevent people from releasing this potential.

“Through his concept of social business, by which someone identifies a social need and creates a non-dividend company to meet this need, he believes people and communities really can help each other to help themselves.

“Yunus’s visit gives the chance for our students and staff, and people outside the University, to learn more about his ideas and will hopefully inspire some of them to start their own social business.

“Our University has always been firmly rooted in the local community and many activities and research projects already taking place here, encouraging social enterprise and society benefit, reflect Yunus’s vision. The launch of our Centre for Social Business will give further focus and an important boost to this work.”

Yunus commented: “I am looking forward to my visit to Greater Manchester and in particular to the University of Salford, which has such a strong connection to its local community and does important work in helping to address the needs of the people of the area. My visit will allow me to meet with many people who are already addressing the needs of society and their local communities.

“I am pleased that the University of Salford has offered to host the social business conference. This summit will allow us to explore how social business can be used as a tool by people to make a real and lasting difference by addressing some of the major challenges faced by the poorest people in the North West of England.

“As I travel the world, I am continually struck by how people, particularly young people, are responding to this message, seeking new ways to build businesses to tackle poverty and other challenges.

“Social business is now a global movement. By harnessing the energy of conventional business to the objective of solving human problems, social business creates self-supporting, non-dividend viable enterprises that generate economic growth, even as they produce goods and services that make the world a better place.”

The Muhammad Yunus: Building Social Business summit is free and open to the public. For more information and to register for the event, visit https://supporters.salford.ac.uk/MuhammadYunus.

Keep up with the latest news from the University of Salford at our Twitter feed or Facebook page.