It’s not often you come across a single book that sums up your own personal philosophy, your charter for business ethics and and action plan to put them in train.
We sometimes forget that Social Business, as a concept, was created in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus and even after nearly two decades of development, there is much mileage in revisiting the publication that got you excited about a better alternative to share-holder capitalism.
”…to give him his fuller salutation, Professor Yunus is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, instrumental from the mid-eighties onwards in the origination and development of the Grameen Bank.
A micro-credit banking system aimed at enabling the skills and enterprise of the poorest on the Indian sub-continent, particularly in the economic emancipation of women. This process has been controversial for some, particularly following initial success, when mainstream banks and national governments began to take an interest in the Grameen system. Not least in the communities most needing help, where female literacy and female financial independence were resisted by existing hierarchies.
None the less Professor Yunus has persisted in supporting the efficacy of micro-loans to stimulate economic activity and self reliance amongst the poor, as well as continuing to develop his thinking on alternatives to mainstream capitalism and how ethical enterprise can foster lasting and sustainable change in communities.
His book Building Social Business explores this thinking and offers the reader some clear, simply declared ideas of how business methodologies, filtered through a mixture of faith, broad community interest and care for the individual can make a real difference in the lives of the poor, the disenfranchised and discriminated”.
(Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs ) Publ: Public Affairs, 2010 – buy this book here with free delivery.)
Source: This text is an abstract of a longer article about spirituality in business – From Bangladesh to Broadway – written for Broadway Social Enterprise in Burton on Trent, Staffordshire recently.
Building Social Business is informative and inspirational. But it is Professor Yunus’s definition, or framing concept, of the Social Business that provides the critical structure for community enterprise. Much less about ego and ownership, much more about compassion, sharing and…well, we think item seven below is the golden ticket.
1. The business objective is to overcome poverty, or one or more problems – such as education, heath, technology, access and the environment – which threatens the welfare of people and a society – not the maximisation of profit.
2. The company will attain financial and economic sustainability.
3. Investors, if there are any, get back only the their investment amount. No other dividend is given or offered.
4. When investments are paid back, profits and surpluses created stay within the company for expansion and improvement.
5. The company will be environmentally conscious.
6. The workforce, if employees are engaged, get market wages and better than standard working conditions.
7. Do it with joy!