• May 2010

What does it mean to be a social entrepreneur?

Welcome to the May issue of Be Inkandescent Magazine: The ezine for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.

In this issue you’ll meet microfinance guru Dr. Muhammad Yunus. We are honored to feature him, for anyone who understands the importance of micro-lending as a means to end global poverty considers him to be one of the great entrepreneurs of our day.

The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, which provides poor people — mainly women — with small loans that they use to launch businesses that lift their families out of poverty. He is also the director emeritis of the Grameen Foundation, which was founded in 1997 by friends of Grameen Bank to help microfinance practitioners and spread the Grameen philosophy worldwide.

Read on to learn about his newest idea, Building Social Business, which is the title of his 2010 book. If you like what you read, meet him in person — for throughout May he’ll be touring the country promoting his ideas. (Scroll down for a list of dates and cities where he’ll be speaking.)

Also in this issue of Be Inkandescent Magazine: You’ll find that each of our Inkandescent columnists has woven the concept of social entrepreneurship into their articles this month:

You’ll also find a feature on Muhammad Yunus’ daughter Monica Yunus, who is a rising star on the opera scene and a social entrepreneur herself.

Here’s to incorporating social business ideas into your work and life!Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent Magazine

Muhammad Yunus Teaches Us How to To Build A Social Business

MAY 2010 ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH

Muhammad Yunus, Social Entrepreneur

Article by Hope Katz Gibbs

WHO HE IS: The Banker to the Poor

A native of Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus was educated at Dhaka University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. In 1972, he became head of the economics department at Chittagong University.

He then served as chairman of the economics department at Chittagong University before dedicating his life to providing financial and social services to the poorest of the poor.

Former President Jimmy Carter says of Dr. Yunus’ work: “By giving poor people the power to help themselves, Dr. Yunus has offered them something far more valuable than a plate of food — security in the most fundamental form.”

WHAT HE DOES: Teaches entrepreneurs and others how to build social businesses

In his 2010 book, “Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs,” Dr. Yunus draws on his previous books to show how social business has gone from being a theory to an inspiring practice.

“The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature,” Dr. Yunus explains. “In the present interpretation of capitalism, human beings engaged in business are portrayed as one-dimensional beings whose only mission is to maximize profit. Humans supposedly pursue this economic goal in a single-minded fashion.”

“This is a badly distorted picture of a human being,” he insists.

“As even a moment’s reflection suggests, human beings are not moneymaking robots,” he believes. “The essential fact about humans is that they are multidimensional beings.”

“Their happiness comes from many sources, not just from making money. And yet, economists have built their whole theory of business on the assumption that we do nothing in our economic lives besides pursue selfish interests. This interpretation denies any role to other aspects of life — political, social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and so on.”

Leading corporations including BASF, Intel, Veolia, Adidas and DANONE (known as Dannon in the US), are taking heed. Each has embraced Yunus’ idea to create self-sufficient, community-serving business projects — and they are already making a difference in the lives of people around the world.

The global yogurt company DANONE, for instance, has established a partnership with Grameen to produce vitamins and nutrient-rich yogurt blends for the poor and malnourished in India and Bangladesh. Dr. Yunus’ next challenge to DANONE is to create fiber-rich edible cups to put that yogurt in so there’s no waste and the consumer gets even healthier, nourishing food.

Veolia is working to give poor communities access to potable water, and Cure2Children is focused on discovering treatments for rare cancers and blood diseases in children around the world.

The fact that these companies can find creative solutions to problems that plague much of the world does not surprise Dr. Yunus.

“The world today is in possession of amazingly powerful technologies,” he says. “But almost all of this technology is owned and controlled by profit-making businesses. So often, all they use this technology for is to make more money, because that is the mandate their shareholders have given them.”

“Yet viewed more broadly, technology is simply a kind of vehicle,” he adds. “One can drive it to any desired destination. If somebody decides to use it to end poverty, it will take the owner in that direction. If another owner wants to use it to end diseases, the technology will go there. The choice is ours.”

WHY HE DOES IT: Dr. Yunus is determined to “Create a World Without Poverty”

In 2009, Yunus was touring the world to promote another book, “Creating a World Without Poverty,” which outlines his vision for a new business model that combines the power of free markets with the quest for a more humane world.

“In the last two decades, free markets have swept the globe, bringing with them enormous potential for positive change,” Dr. Yunus explained. “But traditional capitalism cannot solve problems like inequality and poverty, because it is hampered by a narrow view of human nature in which people are one-dimensional beings concerned only with profit,” he says.

“Human beings have many other drives and passions, including the spiritual, the social, and the altruistic. Welcome to the world of social business, where the creative vision of the entrepreneur is applied to today’s most serious problems: feeding the poor, housing the homeless, healing the sick, and protecting the planet.”

Indeed, “Creating a World Without Poverty” tells the stories of some of the earliest examples of social businesses, including Yunus’ own Grameen Bank, and reveals the next phase in a hopeful economic and social revolution that is already under way. His goal: to create a worldwide effort to eliminate poverty by unleashing the productive energy of every human being.

“Dr. Yunus goes beyond microcredit to pioneer the idea of social business—a completely new way to use the creative vibrancy of business to tackle social problems from poverty and pollution to inadequate health care and lack of education,” says Perry Hooks, president of Hooks Book Events, who helped bring Yunus to DC and donated a portion of ticket sales to the Grameen Foundation. “This is a worldwide effort to eliminate poverty by unleashing the productive energy of every human being. I am honored to be able to bring Dr. Yunus to Washington, DC, and host this important event.”

View Dr. Yunus’ appearance in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2009 when C-SPAN BOOKS aired the hour-long speech that he gave at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of the George Washington University. Click here to watch.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Learn more about Dr. Yunus, the Grameen Bank, and the Grameen Foundation by visiting www.grameenfoundation.org.

Click here to read Yunus’ Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus teaches us how to build a social business

Five lessons the social entrepreneur has learned in his efforts to help the world discover a new kind of capitalism

By Hope Katz Gibbs

In his 2007 New York Times bestseller, Creating a World
Without Poverty,
Dr. Muhammad Yunus said that a social business must be at least as well managed as any profit-maximizing business.

And with his new book, Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs, he shares his experience creating Grameen Danone (the yogurt company, which is known as Dannon in the US).

In the 226-page hardback, published by Public Affairs Books, Dr. Yunus explains that the challenge of creating Grameen Danone has not been made any easier by its status as a social business — if anything, just the opposite has been true.

“It is difficult to design a business that generates strong and growing sales of a useful product, so that the business can sustain itself,” he shares. “It is also quite difficult to design an organization that provides a clear, measurable benefit to society or to a significant segment of society — for example, better nutrition for the poor. It is even more difficult to design a social business that does both things at the same time.”

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS,” Dr. Yunus believes

Those words were his advice to readers in Creating a World Without Poverty, and highly applicable, he shares, when it came to building Grameen Danone. In an effort to help others trying to create a social business — actually any business at all — he offers details about the five lessons he has learned.

1. Be flexible, yet never lose sight of your central goal.

Dr. Yunus says it was necessary to make changes in the business design with Grameen Danone, despite the fact that analysts spent months planning before ground was broken on the factory or a single cup was produced. “Life is just too complicated for anyone, no matter how farsighted, to predict every contingency,” he believes.

His advice: “Don’t be afraid to adjust your business plan when circumstances make it necessary. But to avoid becoming purely reactive, flitting from one program to the next, always remember the central goal for which you established the social business in the first place.”

2. Immerse yourself in the culture of the people you intend to serve.

“As every businessperson knows, understanding your customer is one of the indispensable keys to success,” Dr. Yunus explains. “And this means, among other things, understanding and empathizing with the culture of the people you serve: their values, dreams, desires, fears, aversions, likes, and dislikes.”

This is even more important when you build a social business, he adds, for the “do-gooders” drawn to this concept are impatient with weaknesses and flaws of the people they are trying to serve.

“When you ask, ‘what’s the matter with these people — why don’t they appreciate the things I’m doing for them?’” he says, “it’s a sign you are wandering down the wrong path. Stop and rethink your plan.”

3. Use help from allies wherever you may find them.

“As I have always said, human beings have a natural desire to help one another,” Dr. Yunus explains. “It’s a motivating force that is just as powerful as the desire for profit. Social business taps and satisfies this desire to do good.”

“Therefore,” he adds, “those who are building social businesses should not be surprised when they encounter people in unlikely places who want to help — nor should they be shy about accepting the support when it is offered.”

4. Take advantage of differing opportunities in different markets.

It’s important for a social business to be financially sustaining, Dr. Yunus emphasizes. While Grameen Danone is on its way to achieving that goal, “this might not be the case if it had insisted on seeing all its potential customers through the same lens.”

So while Grameen Bank’s experience has been in dealing with rural poor women, and since the worst problems with poverty exist in rural areas among the poor, Grameen Danone found its best approach was to tackle that market — as well as the needy in cities. But they market the product differently to each group.

“In the city, it can sell yogurt at a price that is slightly higher, but still affordable to the urban poor, building sales and production volume while generating profits to subsidize the less-affluent rural market,” he says. “Though very different, the two markets support one another and work together to make Grameen Danone a stronger, more sustainable business.”

5. Question your own assumptions.

Dr. Yunus explains that initially, Grameen Danone’s nutritionists thought that a serving of 80 grams of yogurt was needed to deliver the high dose of micronutrients or children would reject its taste. But a milk crisis caused them to reconsider, and as a result they found a smaller serving could be equally nutritious and delicious.

“If you are trying to build a social business, you should periodically look back at the assumptions you’ve made and consider whether they are still valid,” Dr. Yunus insists. “You may find that circumstances have changed or that your initial beliefs were simply wrong — which may open up new opportunities you never dreamed existed.”

Praise for Muhammad Yunus

“[Yunus’] ideas have already had a great impact on the Third World, and … hearing his appeal for a ‘poverty-free world’ from the source itself can be as stirring as that all-American myth of bootstrap success.” — The Washington Post

“Muhammad Yunus is a practical visionary who has improved the lives of millions of people in his native Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world.” — Los Angeles Times

“The [Grameen Bank] has become a mecca for development economists and is being copied around the world.” — The Economist

“It’s not just Yunus’ theories [Peter] Drucker would have admired; above all, it’s his effectiveness … See for yourself. Check out Yunus’ [books]. Not only are they inspirational, they are highly informational — fantastic case studies on how to manage a business the right way.” — Rick Wartzman, BusinessWeek

To buy your copy of “Building Social Business,” click here.

Learn more: Tips from Dr. Yunus, above, are based on details in Chapter 2, “Lessons from Three Tumultuous Years,” pages 49-53, in “Building Social Business.”

About the Grameen Foundation

Muhammad Yunus is the Director, Emeritus, of the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with an office in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 1997 by friends of Grameen Bank to help microfinance practitioners and spread the Grameen philosophy worldwide.

“We share the ideas of 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, but the Grameen Foundation and Grameen Bank are independent organizations and have no financial or institutional links,” according to the introduction on the homepage of the website, www.grameenfoundation.org.

The mission: As a leader in the fight against poverty in Sub Saharan Africa, Asia, Middle East/North Africa, and the Americas, its cutting-edge programs and resources have helped more than 45 million poor people, mostly women and children, improve their lives.

How it works: The Grameen Foundation collaborates with local organizations and allies around the globe to provide products and services that allow them to:

• reach deeper into poor communities with microfinance and technology services;
• provide access to microfinance and technology services among the poor and poorest in harder to reach areas and currently unserved/underserved areas;
• measure who is being reached to ensure they are moving out of poverty over time.

For more information, visit www.grameenfoundation.org.

The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

– Buddha

Many people prefer to play it safe when it comes to business matters. Are you willing to take risks in the pursuit of entrepreneurial success?”

– Steven Schussler

Find somebody to be successful for. Raise their hopes. Think of their needs.”

– Barack Obama

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

– Charles R. Swindoll

My job is my hobby. I come to work to play.”

– Uli Becker, president, Reebok International

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”

– Lord Chesterfield

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

– Lao Tzu

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

– Helen Keller

Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”

– Arthur Rubinstein

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”

– Charles Brower, Advertising Hall of Fame

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”

– Thomas Dunn

A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

– Norwegian proverb

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

You may ask me for anything you like except time.”

– Napoleon

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

– Andrew Carnegie

It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.”

– Aristotle

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”

– John Quincy Adams

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
 what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

‎No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

– President Calvin Coolidge

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.”

– Anthony Trollope

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

It is to no purpose to turn away from the real nature of the affair because the honor of its elements excites repugnance.

– Carl von Clausewitz, On War

A lot of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not next week. But today.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

I always maintained that the greatest obstacle in life isn’t danger, it’s boredom. The battle against it is responsible for most of the events in the world — good or ill.”

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

Your own words are the bricks and mortar
of the dreams you want to realize.
 The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”

– Sonia Croquette

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

– Christopher Robin to Pooh

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

A man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.”

– Chinese Proverb

By your stumbling the world is perfected.”

– Sri Aurobindo

Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

– Madam C.J. Walker

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”

– Carlos Castaneda

If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”

– Anna Quindlen

Don’t follow, lead. Don’t copy, create. Don’t start, finish. Don’t sit still, move. Don’t fit in, stand out. Don’t sit quietly, speak up. (Not all the time, sure, but more often.)”

– Seth Godin

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.
 Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

– Dalai Lama

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

Anything not worth doing well is not worth doing.”

– Warren Buffett

Change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change.”

– Alan Webber, author, "Rules of Thumb"

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