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Each One Of Us Can Change The World: Dr Yunus


“Social Business is about solving problems, not making profits” explained Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank Dr. Muhammad Yunus at the IACA auditorium in Smyrna this Aug 28th. The Meet and greet event was hosted by Indian American Cultural Association (IACA), co-sponsored by Gandhi Foundation of America, Pujari, and the Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta (BAGA).

Advocating the cause of social business Dr. Yunus talked about the humble beginnings, challenges and the eventual success story of his micro-finance Grameen Bank. He noted that women, when entrusted with the same amount of money improvised their overall family lives in comparison to their male counterparts. 

Dr. Yunus described how he learnt early on that very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person. His first loan, consisting of $27.00 from his own pocket, was made to 42 women in the village of Jobra, who made a net profit of $0.02 each on the loan. Inspired by this example, Dr. Yunus created Grameen Bank in 1983 to make low-interest loans to the poor, firmly believing that given the chance the poor will repay the borrowed money and hence micro credit could be a viable business model. 

Initially Dr. Yunus and his colleagues encountered everything from violent radical leftists to the conservative clergy. Grameen Bank has 1,084 branches in Bangladesh and serves 2.1 million borrowers in 37,000 villages with majority of the borrowers being women. 

The success of the Grameen model of micro financing has inspired similar efforts in different countries throughout the developing world we well as industrialized nations, including the United States. 

Emphasizing the importance of a selfless business model, Dr. Yunus explained that social businesses operate with a goal of delivering particular social benefit and investors agreeing not to take any money from the company beyond their original investment. Describing the presence of Grameen in India, he said that Bombay and Ahmedabad were active participants and that he was working with Mittal group to create one in Rajasthan. Dr. Yunus said he was reaching out to Bombay Stock Exchange to create a special stock exchange for social business gauging companies that help women, old people, single mothers, the homeless, drug addicts and such where the objective of this business remains selfless and aimed for a purpose. 

“Governments take time in our parts of the world to take initiative in programs due to a lot of issues, but it is easier for citizens to implement them,” he stated, concluding with an insightful statement, “Each one of us can change the world”

Dr. Muhammad Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Grameen Bank, for their efforts to create economic and social development. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton was a vocal advocate for the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Dr. Yunus. Dr. Yunus is the recipient of several awards, special honors, and honorary degrees and is on the Board of directors, member of numerous committees both national and international. He has also authored several books.

Padma Ralllapli, IACA President thanked Dr. Yunus for his inspirational thoughts and speech. She also thanked the sponsors. Food was catered by Royal Cuisine for all attendees. The organizers also arranged for a book signing by Dr. Yunus. 
Earlier, IACA Executive vice president Viren Mayani welcomed Dr. Yunus to Atlanta and the event.

Dr. Yunus said he was passing through Atlanta meeting and organizing joint venture efforts with Emory to create a Nursing College for under privileged women in Bangladesh. 

Dr. Yunus is a fine example of some one who chose the road less traveled and that as Robert Frost said has made all the difference. Atlanta and the audience at IACA sure were glad to have him speak to them about his ideals that have made such a profound difference changing so many lives, one day at a time.

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