Eminent Speakers Series: Nobel Peace Prize-winner and Microcredit Champion Muhammad Yunus

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Date: 12/03/2013
Location: Tunis, Tunisia

Nobel Prize-winner, Professor Muhammad Yunus, will give a speech in the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Eminent Speakers Series on March 12, 2013 in Tunis. The topic of  Prof. Yunus’ speech, the 19th in the series which began in 2005, will be “Building Social Business in Africa: the new kind of capitalism that serves society’s most pressing needs.”

The speech will be delivered before a distinguished audience of diplomats, representatives of government and civil society, and AfDB staff.

A Bangladeshi national, Prof. Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 together with Grameen Bank, the microfinance lending institution that he founded in 1976 and which became an independent bank in 1983.

The Nobel Committee said it awarded the joint prize to Prof. Yunus and the Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.” The professor had been championing the cause for micro-credit since 1975, arguing that poverty was an artificial creation that can be wholly eliminated through human endeavour.

In its commendation, the Nobel Committee added that: “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and social rights.”

Prof. Yunus chairs the Yunus Centre, a resource centre for all Grameen Social Business-related activities in Bangladesh and around the world.  

The Centre describes social business as companies “created for social benefit rather than private profit. Like an NGO, it has a social or environmental mission, but like a business, it generates its own revenues to cover its costs. Investors may recoup their investment. All profits are reinvested for growth and innovation, or to seed new Social Business ventures. Social Business aims to expand the current capitalist model by focusing on goals that serve society at large rather than personal profit.”

Prof. Yunus himself says: “A charity dollar has only one life. A Social Business dollar has endless life.”

Prof. Yunus was educated at Dhaka University in Bangladesh and Vanderbilt University in the United States. He taught Economics at Middle Tennessee University before returning to Bangladesh after independence in 1972, and became Head of the Economics Department at the University of Chittagong.

Other distinguished Eminent Speakers in the series have included Nobel Economics Prize-winner Professor Joseph Stiglitz; Nobel Peace Prize-winner, the late environmentalist and political activist Wangari Maathai; and the former president of Ghana, John A. Kufuor.