Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate, “one limitation of charity is that money goes towards wonderful work but it doesn’t come back”

It was an honour and a delight to interview Professor Muhammad Yunus in the Ice House in Davos in 2016.

A few of his more memorable quotations:

“The private sector is critical to achieving the 17 sustainable development goals.  If you keep the forces that created the problems (poverty, hunger, ill health, climate change) the same as before, they’ll stay the same as before.”

“Human beings are not all selfish; there is a combination of selfishness and selflessness…  We have been creating a separate kind of business based on selflessness – we call them social business, non-dividend company to solve human problems.”

“This is very important – restructuring our thinking, restructuring of our doing.  I’m not blaming people for being selfish.  If we redesign our theories we will redesign our entire world.  It is inside of us – our compassion, our caring and sharing feelings inside of us, it has never had a chance to express itself.”

“All we did to express our compassion was to create charities.  Charity is a wonderful idea but one limitation of charity is that charity money goes towards wonderful work but it doesn’t come back.  If you can transform it into social business money, it does the same thing, and then it comes back.  Social business money becomes immortal – it never disappears.  We have to bring these ideas into the structure, and at the same time making sure the problems don’t come back. ”

How do you convince normal companies that social investment is just investment?

“Big businesses are coming to us and saying, can we join in – so we have joint ventures with big companies to do social business. We have a joint venture with Danon – we produce a special kind of yogurt to adjust the problem of malnutrition of children. This is a positive way of addressing malnutrition.  We have joint ventures on water with Veolia, with Intel, Uniqlo, McCain and many others.”

“These are separate businesses – set up to solve problems.”

“You can totally dedicate your business to solve problems.”

“Involve youth.  Youth has unlimited power.  Put youth and technology together and they become unbeatable.” “The education system should be encouraging them and preparing them as they finish school to have a business plan.” “You create your own wealth.  You create your own fortune.”