I believe poverty does not belong to civilised human society. Its proper place is in a poverty museum.
Ending human trafficking is another important goal for us to reach. Human trafficking is a fundamental breach of human rights. It has its origin in poverty. While much can be done through education and by enforcing legal rights, human trafficking can only be fully eradicated by reducing poverty.
Unless we focus on poverty, no matter what we do, we cannot stop it. It’s the lack of quality of life that makes people vulnerable. I am glad Freshfields has adopted this goal for their focused attention.
To fight trafficking, one may start with the question: How do we improve the quality of a woman’s life, so that she doesn’t have to leave the family, so that she doesn’t have to take a risk with her life and opt for the ‘shining future’ the trafficker promises her?
I feel helping the poor to utilise their entrepreneurial ability is the most powerful driver to end poverty. Microcredit and social business create this opportunity for the poor people. With the support from both they can move from micro-enterprise to higher levels of enterprises.
A social business is a new kind of business, designed to solve human problems. It is defined as a non-dividend company to solve human problems.
At Yunus Social Business our aim is to help such social businesses get access to funding, which can have a long-lasting impact in the same way that microcredit can. We draw attention to the fact that ‘A charity dollar has one life, a social business dollar has endless life, it can be reinvested over and over again.’
Social business has a critical role to play in this perspective in three ways. Social business transforms unemployment into entrepreneurship. I believe human beings are fundamentally entrepreneurs. By forcing people to look for jobs instead of helping them to become job-creators we have distorted the world. Social business is trying to unleash the entrepreneurial capacity of all people, poor or non-poor.
Conventional companies can also play a role by ensuring that they pay their employees a fair wage, and ensure healthcare of their employees.
However, over time I believe that the business community can have significant impact by creating their own ‘social businesses’, alongside their traditional businesses.
The support given by Freshfields to Yunus Social Business has been of great value to our organisation and helped us ensure that we can constantly mobilise funding for creating more and more social businesses and help put poverty in the museum where it belongs.
Professor Yunus is a social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.