From the Editor-in-Chief: Why social business matters

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
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There is little question that Muhammad Yunus has earned his place in history and not merely because of the Nobel Prize for Peace he won years ago. His Grameen concept has served as an idea that offers hope to millions of poor across the globe. That was a springboard to the larger idea of social business which Yunus was subsequently to propound. Indeed, his work on the subject, which won critical acclaim through media reviews across the globe, was a remarkable account of the many ways in which the poor and the under-privileged could be assisted in emerging from poverty through benevolent efforts on the part of organizations geared to promoting public welfare.


The essence of social business is what ought not to be missed. As Yunus has shown over the years, loans to the poor, on terms of easy repayment and of course enabling the recipients to come by small returns initially are a way of informing society that capitalism does not have to result in a commandeering of resources by the few at huge disadvantage to the poor. Indeed, social business as a concept is a fresh new definition of economy-related philosophies that would have society’s have-nots encouraged through a more purposeful aspect of capitalism, the objective being to have them find their own way in the world. Loans for the poor to have their children sent to school as a step toward producing a literate society have yielded good benefits to poor families in Bangladesh. Again, social business has been instrumental in helping beggars come out of an activity or profession which promised them neither a guarantee of decent survival nor self-dignity. Instances are there of beggars being provided with loans to purchase such items as toys for children and household goods and then selling them for small profits, the profits then expanding gradually. The move has changed life for a good number of the very poor who once appeared fated to end life in a state of begging.


Social business, in the final analysis, is underpinned by thoughts of an uplift of the poor through arrangements which aim at a restoration of self-dignity for them. Those who are granted loans are enabled to repay them on easy terms. In other words, social business is not pity or donation, for it involves deals between a lending agency and a prospective recipient. It is an enterprise that ought to be replicated at wider and more institutional levels, especially where government should come in. Social business is a not-for-profit affair, which says a lot. In a world where capitalism is looked upon with suspicion and socialism has been unable to deliver the promised goods, social business offers hope — and of a substantive kind.

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