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Muhammad Yunus, on How NOT to reduce human beings to money making machines — 2

By Matthieu Ricard on July 15, 2013

Excerpts from a speech given by Muhammad Yunus at the Université de la Terre, UNESCO, April 27, 2013

‟Two thirds of the population in Bangladesh has nothing to do with banks and is stuck in poverty. With empty hands, you can't start anything. Microcredit fills the gap left open by banks. In the beginning, the big financial authorities said that it couldn't be done. We have shown that it works very well.

Grameen Bank does not accept money from outside. We only accept money from people, mostly women who have borrowed microcredit from us, who safely deposit their savings with us when they make a little. People should not come to the bank. The bank should go to the people. We have to propose schemes that the women to whom we lend can understand. It should be simple and attractive. Currently we have 8.5 million borrowers in 80,000 villages. They don't have to come to our office. Grameen Bank goes to them at their doorstep, every week.

I have never bought nor owned a single share of Grameen Bank. I am not interested in money. I am not against making profit, but we should always ask ourselves, ‟Profit for whom?” Now, after 37 years of existence, we lend 1.5 billion dollars each year. Over 99% is reimbursed.

Many large companies have charitable foundations. These could easily be converted into social business activities and become much more powerful tools. They will not be writing a check. In social business you have to get involved and bring your creative power into it. When you create a social business, employees can use the whole spectrum of their human qualities, such as care, in addition to their professional skills. Business then becomes much more attractive and rewarding for people.

Science fiction is always ahead of science. But then, a lot of what was science fiction yesterday has become science today. We should also write ‟social fiction” and inspire people who will think ‟Why not?” Real change will not happen just by making predictions. Those are notoriously bad at envisioning the future. Nobody predicted the fall of the Berlin wall, or of the Soviet Union, but it happened very fast. So we should imagine the future and then make it happen.”