How 'Social Business' Can Create a World without Poverty

By Yunus, Muhammad | The Christian Science Monitor, February 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

How 'Social Business' Can Create a World without Poverty


Yunus, Muhammad, The Christian Science Monitor


Bill Gates caused a stir in Davos last month with his call for "creative capitalism." He pointed out that while capitalism is "responsible for the great innovations that have improved the lives of billions ... to harness this power so it benefits everyone, we need to refine the system."

I see traditional capitalism as a half-developed structure. It ignores the humanity within all of us.

Moneymaking is an important part of humanity, but it is not the only part. Caring, concern, sharing, empathy - all of these aspects also must be considered when developing an economic framework that takes the whole person into account.

Enter the missing piece of the global development puzzle: social business.

Social business - not a charity

A social business is not a charity. It is a nonloss, nondividend company with a social objective. It aims to maximize the positive impact on society while earning enough to cover its costs, and, if possible, generate a surplus to help the business grow. The owner never intends to take any profit for himself.

As evidenced every day by religious ministers and practitioners, social activists, and philanthropists, making money is not always the only driving force. They may be a special group of people who makes it visible, but the desire to help others exists in various degrees in every human being.

Capitalism's limits

Traditional capitalism doesn't tap into that universal desire. Capitalism delivers limited results because it takes too narrow a view of human nature, assuming people are one-dimensional, concerned only with maximizing profits.

Capitalism has long been a source of prosperity, spurring industrial, technological, and social progress in North America and Western Europe. But even as standards of living rise, large numbers of people are still left behind.

While free markets have ushered in many benefits, these gains have bypassed too many of the world's people, especially the poor.

And yet, in recent decades, powerful tools have been developed that leverage capitalism's strengths to enrich the lives of those who get left behind.

Take microcredit. It has been a powerful tool in combating poverty, enabling the poorest of the poor to change their lives and provide for their families. Through these small, collateral-free loans with a nearly 100 percent return rate, borrowers - mostly women - have been able to harness entrepreneurial abilities inherent in them.

Microcredit is just one example of how a business approach can help alleviate poverty when we move beyond the idea that business by definition has to mean making financial profit for the owner.

We need social businesses to couple the human heart to the capitalist system. This is a sure way of meeting needs that either remain unmet or are met extremely inadequately through the efforts of philanthropy, charity, or welfare.

Traditional philanthropy and nonprofits generate a social gain, but they do not design their programs as self-sustaining business models. A charitable dollar can be used only once. A dollar invested in a self-sustaining social business is recycled endlessly.

A social business is designed to be both self-sustaining and to maximize social returns like patients treated, houses built, or health insurance extended to people who never had this coverage. An investor in a social business retains an ownership interest to hold management accountable and to get the investment back over time, but no dividends are expected, and any profits should be reinvested in the business or used to start new similar businesses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How 'Social Business' Can Create a World without Poverty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.