LEADERSHIP IN TIMES OF DIGITALIZATION

How a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate envisions the future

Ever wondered how a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate wants to shape the future world? We talked to one to find out: Muhammad Yunus, father of modern micro-finance.

Let us present to you a great visionary of the future, a Nobel Peace Laureate we interviewed for the Future of Leadership Initiative 2015 on the topic of progress: Muhammad Yunus, father of modern micro-finance and pioneer of social business.

His life is full of extraordinary accomplishments. His journey began with the creation of the Grameen Bank in 1975, the first bank of modern times to lend micro-credits to poor people. Those micro-credits enable those who would have otherwise been completely excluded from the financial system, to set up micro-businesses and to find their way out of poverty. His business model became a success and quickly expanded on a larger scale. Soon after, other microfinance institutions (MFIs) spread all over the world, following his example.  According to the Microcredit Summit of 2007, it was estimated that the number of people benefitting from microcredits rose to about 133 million.

Even though he contributed a lot to a more inclusive financial system, he revealed to us that he wants to even go further.

You see, this is exactly the point: It is very good news that we have spread this system all over the world. The bad news is: we have not grown enough yet. I want everybody to be able to access financial services […] But for that, we would also have to create a different kind of business. ”

 

There´s a lot an inclusive banking system and social business can do to tackle the world´s most pressing issues

 

Aside from implementing an inclusive banking system he wants to promote a new form of business altogether: the social business, which makes business for people, not profits. In his own words, “We can build business on the basis of selflessness. In a selfless business, I do everything for others.”, explaining to us that the current economic system often makes us selfish. But we are not selfish beings, and Muhammad Yunus´ new form of business aims to bring out the selfless part in us. Social businesses are currently emerging all over the globe, also because “young people love it” as he states it. Indeed, the future generation sees “that this is something that fits into the way they would like to see the world.”  

 

For a lot of young talents, social business combines all their needs

 

He has high hopes for the development of social business, and for that he identified 3 major ways:

IMPACT INVESTMENT: If at least 1% of the total investment in the world would be invested in social businesses - which he hopes this would be the case in the next 5 years- “this would be the beginning of a self-reinforcing cycle”.

 

YOUNG PEOPLE´s POWER: He believes that the coming generation is a very special one, and wants to encourage young people to follow their path:  "You are a super human being because of technology. It has never happened in history before, but you have tremendous power on your disposal. You have to become aware that you can do anything you want because of this power. You can change the world by yourself and don’t have to wait for anybody else.“

LEADERS´ SUPPORT OF YOUNG PEOPLE: “I would take them to the young people. I would tell them: Engage them, give them all the facilities to create social businesses. Money should not be their problem. The idea behind a social business is not to go all  the way “make money, make money”. Make sure the young people don’t.”

About the interviewee: Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus, born in Bangladesh and expert in microfinance, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Grameen Bank in 2006. He founded the Grameen Bank as a bank for those people who are too poor to get a credit from other banks. His micro-credits should help the poorest to start being an entrepreneur. His idea has been spread all over the world. For the future Yunus plans to expand a form of business, that is different from the one of today: the social business, that is to say a business that is economically viable but which goal above all is to have a social impact.

About the author: Stella Veneziano

Currently doing her Masters at EMLyon Business School, Stella Veneziano is a curious and open-minded person who is particularly passionnate about social innovation. As Global Operations Manager at the NGO Ampion for instance, she fully organized the "Venture Bus" tours through several African regions, a 7-day incubation program for entrepreneurs. Today, she is responsible for the Future of Leadership Initiative, whose aim to foster inspiring leadership.

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