#SASI #campus #yunussocialbusiness
I was lucky enough (along with Victoria Reca) to meet Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Co-president of the HEC Paris Social Business /Enterprise and Poverty Chair as he was invited on HEC campus.
Is Business the way to go?
Following my question addressing microcredit criticism, I decided to broaden the scope of my curiosity, and posed a question based on a quote from Yunus while accepting the George Washington University’s President’s Medal on Oct. 26, 2016. During his remarks to the audience, Yunus stated that “every time I see a problem, my mind works in the direction of creating a business to solve it.” There are many instances of businesses bringing effective solutions to society, such as Bill Drayton’s Ashoka, but that is not always the case. TOM’S Shoes, an international shoe company, has been criticized at times because its shoe donation policy does not help development of the local shoes makers in areas the company donates to, or Volkswagen’s 2015 environmental engineering scandal as part of an effort to increase the company’s bottom line. These impacts must be considered when developing an effective business model for societal issues.
Thus, upon reading the quote from Professor Yunus, I resolved curiosity to ask him if there were any problems that he had encountered for which business was not the solution. In response, Professor Yunus, stated that “if [business] is not the solution, I move away from it… if you see a problem, if you can come up with a business idea, follow that business idea. If you can’t, move onto something else.” In his reply, Professor Yunus also acknowledged that some problems are better served by other organizations, “either a charity or with some other means of instruction, education, and so on” but didn’t specify and problems in particular. He freely admitted that he has had a number of failures throughout his career, but when considering a problem, one failure does not mean business is not a solution. Sometimes, the “very first approach was wrong, it was not that it couldn’t be done, it was simply that I didn’t have the right idea… that is how it works in the business world. Most of the work that I do is trial and error”.