Global Social Business Summit in Kuala Lumpur: A Beacon of hope and empowerment

Global Social Business Summit in Kuala Lumpur: A Beacon of hope and empowerment

The 5th Global Social Business Summit was held from 7-9 November 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Razak delivered the key note speech on “Road map for social business in Malaysia” and Professor Yunus presented the concluding speech on “Road map towards 2018”.

It was organized by the Grameen Creative Lab, Yunus Centre, and Youth Trust Foundation and it is an annual summit like the World Economic Forum. The summit presents best practices, promotes discussions and collaborations among practitioners, stakeholders, and experts all over the globe and across all sectors.

The Global Social Business Summit introduced by Nobel Laureate Prof. Yunus brings together every year with experts from corporations, civil society, governments and academia to discuss innovative methods of social business and task of solving social problems, such as poverty, healthcare, education, energy and other social ills.

It is reported that more than 600 experts from different backgrounds from about 40 countries joined the summit. From Bangladesh it is reported that about 107 persons attended the summit.

Many young people are enthused with the concept because traditional institutions are failing them. The “ Young Challengers Meeting” took place on November 6, a day before the Summit.

Relieved from the responsibility of Managing Director of Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has been able to invest more time and energy in popularising the social business concept which has become an important component for capacity building in business as well as in employment.

This year the focus was “Social Business to Change the World” . How social business with the advantages of technological progress could foster innovative ideas for social business to serve society’s most pressing needs to change the lifestyle of poor and needy people. Companies such as Danone, Intel, Veolia Water, Renault and McCain shared their experiences in developing innovative technological solutions within the social business framework.

The conference has been most appropriate in Kula Lumpur, a vibrant nation which has changed its profile to almost to a developed country. A crying call for creating jobs for youths has reverberated all Asia and the social business could be the mechanism to create jobs for unemployed people.

What is Social Business?

Social Business is an innovative concept because it is not a charity. It is non-loss, non-dividend business enterprise with social objectives. Social business has to generate social gain and to maximize social returns like patients treated, houses built, or health insurance extended to poor people.

The blending of business approaches within philanthropic model to help the poor and disadvantaged section of the community is innovative. The philosophical underpinnings of such activities are based on creating a community based on social justice and human rights. Broadly what German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) envisaged such type of activities as “natural rights”.

For social business entrepreneurs, the prime motivation for them is the altruistic attitude. It implies spirit of benevolence, compassion and empathy. They operate in the realm of the heart and mind. Heart which feels for the people and the mind which thinks for and with the people.

Nobel Peace Laureate and Human Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. ( 1929-1968) once said ” True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring”. This implies that the causes of begging are to be addressed through innovative interventions.

Social businesses may cover reduction of poverty, diseases and combating global warming or any other issues that creates a minimum standard of living and quality of life necessary for human dignity. The investors can recoup their funds but may not take any profits.

What social entrepreneurs try to do is to invent ideas to ease a problem confronted by poor people. Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They offer new ideas for wide-scale change in thinking and action.

What sets social business entrepreneurs apart is that they have taken action to do something about it, namely, devise a solution for the need and follow through to make that solution to others through non-loss and non-profit businesses.

In other words, use of capital is focused on philanthropic sector but with a focus on development objectives. As a result, some charity foundations now carefully consider not just whether a project will benefit people, but whether it will achieve a greater impact than other potential social investments.

A charitable dollar can be used only once. A dollar invested in a self-sustaining social business is recycled endlessly. For example, you don’t buy a fish for the poor but provide a fishing rod to poor to catch fish.

Social business entrepreneurs create new industries to meet the needs of the poor and disadvantaged people in the community. Social businesses are of two types:

Businesses focused on social objectives, for example, a product is produced for the benefit of the poor.

Businesses owned by the poor who can receive benefits from investments. For example, a product produced by the poor, but exported to overseas while net profits would go towards poor.

The purpose of social business is solely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of a business and no personal gain is desired by investors. Social objectives include health care for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water and introducing renewable energy for the poor.

Social business will have the following ingredients:

Social objectives for helping the poor

Community ownership of social business: ownership by poor or disadvantaged community

Non-profit distribution: investors may not receive profits after investments being paid back.

Many foreign universities around the world have been attracted to the idea of social business and have opened centres of social business within their campus. Private think-tanks and academic institutions may encourage the idea of social business to wider dissemination among the community by organising workshops and seminars. The role of the media is very important to popularize the innovative social business in the community.

Social business is not confined to any particular country as it embraces all countries. The main focus is to create jobs and banish poverty from the planet. The concept is ground-breaking, the purpose is noble, and its fulfillment is the cherished goal. It is a tool for empowerment and harnessing the potentials of young people.

Concluding remarks:

I am confident that given the pool of innovative and imaginative social entrepreneurs in the country, social business will attract many of them and let us make Bangladesh a pioneer in the field of social business entrepreneurships to help poor and underprivileged in the country.

The last year the summit took place in Vienna, and the next year’s Social Business Summit will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The changing venue of the summit from Europe to Asia to Latin America demonstrates how popular and attractive the concept of social business has captured the imagination across the world.

Place your ads here!

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment