An Evening with Professor Muhammad Yunus


Words by Florence Robson

This October, Nobel Peace Laureate, acclaimed social entrepreneur and founder of the Grameen Bank and Yunus Social Business, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, joined us at The Conduit for a conversation with his Co-Founder and CEO of Yunus Social Business, Saskia Bruysten, and The Conduit Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Paul van Zyl.

Yunus Social Business (YSB) runs a Philanthropic Venture Fund that turns donations into investments in sustainable social businesses that provide employment, education, healthcare, clean water and clean energy to over 9 million people worldwide. YSB has also been working with over 20 global corporations to help them use their core competencies to address social problems.

In London to launch the Yunus Social Business London Chapter, as well as his latest book, ‘A World of Three Zeros’, Prof. Yunus, Saskia and Paul had an animated conversation addressing the ways in which our current economic system leads to inequality, unemployment and environmental destruction, and setting out a vision for a new path, driven by altruism and generosity.

Read on for some of Professor Yunus’ key guiding principles and outlooks, in his own words.

On entrepreneurship:

“A natural human being is not a job seeker. We are hunters, gatherers, farmers, problem solvers. Entrepreneurship is the essence of humanity. Human beings are not born to work for anybody. We have unlimited creative capacity, so the next step is to unleash it.”

On the economy:

“If you look at the issue of wealth distribution, the world’s wealth is distributed into fewer and fewer hands. Only 3 people in the US own more wealth than the entire bottom 50% of the population of the US. 28 people in the world own more wealth than the entire bottom 50% of the entire world. This is a mockery of an economy. If you think of the economy as a body, if all the blood is in the fingertips, the body refuses to function. Undoing it is the only solution.”

On AI:

“Artificial intelligence is driven by greed. You want to bring the cost of production down. There is no place for human beings in that.”

On the flaws of the education system:

“I met a young person who didn’t think he was able to start his own business, although his mother had taken a loan and had become a successful entrepreneur in her community. I said to him “You know the difference between you and your mother? Your mother is a natural human being – no education has contaminated her mind.””

On the role of Yunus Social Business:

“Each of us has the creative capacity as a human being to thrive. We just need to be allowed the opportunity to do so. Yunus Social Business offers a hand-out of poverty to the very poor by financing and supporting social businesses. We have the same objectives as a charity but we ignite them with the engine of business.”

For more information on YSB, please contact Tasnima Islam, Head of UK and Global Director of Strategic Ventures at YSB.

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