What can you do with US$27? For most, they’d either spend it right away or set it aside for a rainy day. For a young Professor Muhammad Yunus however, he lent the money to 42 female basket weavers in the tiny village of Jobra.
The women were but some of the victims of the Bangladesh famine of 1974, that claimed the lives of 1.5 million people following the war for the nation’s independence. Found unworthy of bank loans, they were soon entangled in a web of debt due to the excessive interest rates charged by moneylenders.
But Yunus threw them a lifeline with his small act of kindness. Inspired by its success in helping the women turn a profit, he founded Grameen Bank in 1983. Since its inception, US$11 million in micro-credit has been distributed, with 36 million family members of the borrowers indirectly benefitting. An impressive feat, perhaps topped by the fact that the repayment rate hovers around 96.4%, a number rarely attained by conventional financial institutions.
This illustrates the power of the butterfly effect, whereby a small change in one place can make a huge difference in another. And it is precisely this power that forms the basis behind the Youth Social Business Summit 2012, a three-day gathering of experts from various private sectors, civil society, governments and academia, in addition to a number of youth delegates – to generate, innovate, collaborate and participate in social business.
For the uninitiated, a social business is a self-sustaining company focused on social welfare than shareholder value. Investors receive no more than their initial investments, with profits channelled back into the organisation for future expansion, improvement of product or service, as well as subsidy of costs.
The practice has been largely propagated via four organisations, namely the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, the Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence, Social Business Earth and the Grameen Creative Lab in Germany. The last of which is responsible for the annual Global Social Business Summit. In 2011, the event attracted the attendance of more than 520 delegates hailing from 57 countries, including government ministers, governors, mayors and industry leaders.
myHarapan is bringing the burgeoning movement to Malaysian shores, and have assembled a dream team of panellists and facilitators the likes of Professor Muhammad Yunus himself, Impact Investment Exchange Asia Director of Corporate Finance Raya Papp, Grameen Credit Agricole Microfinance Foundation Chief Investment Officer Juergen Hammer, Kakiseni founder Low Ngai Yuen and Tandem Fund COO Kal Joffres; amongst others.
“Malaysia has done tremendous things in the whole of Asia,” said Yunus at the Global Social Business Summit last year. “You have become a symbol of achievement for the poor countries looking to become middle income nations. And this is what we want to describe to the world, that it possible to do so.”
Delegates are expected to contribute to the ongoing discussion rather than merely view it. The Social Business Breakouts calls upon them to learn about existing social businesses and solve pre-determined challenges concerning global issues, whereas the Eureka Breakouts tasks them to design a social business that aligns with the core values of the for- profits sitting on the Platinum Panel.
The Youth Social Business Summit will also be streamed online for people across the world to watch events as they unfold. In addition, videos of the various sessions will be uploaded to our social media platforms to be shared among netizens. Resources such as presentation slides and talk transcripts will be made available in the days after.
The summit would not be made possible without the support of proud sponsors My E.G. and Yayasan Sejahtera.
The stage is set for the 7th to the 9th of December at [email protected] The public are welcome to check out the exhibitions of the social enterprises represented at the event.
Tickets are priced at RM300 for Malaysians, RM400 for Internationals and RM600 for Corporates. Members of student NGOs Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) and AIESEC enjoy discounted prices of RM100 and RM150 for Malaysians and Internationals respectively. Seats are limited, so get your tickets online by visiting the official website at socialbusinesssummit.my.