Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Philanthrocapitalism: do well by doing good

Tonight I'm going to see Dr. Muhammad Yunus, microcredit pioneer, speak at George Washington University. [Update: Transcipt of speech] Over the past few days Yunus was at the World Economic Forum and has spoken with numerous journalists. Here are a few of the news articles mentioning Yunus over the past few days.

More than 100 Million of World’s Poorest Benefit from Microcredit (Microcredit Summit Campaign) - "More than 106 million of the world’s poorest families received a microloan in 2007, surpassing a goal set ten years earlier, according to a report released today by the Microcredit Summit Campaign. Microloans are used to help people living in extreme poverty start or expand a range of tiny businesses such as husking rice, selling tortillas, and delivering cell phone services to remote villages. 'This is a tremendous achievement that many people thought was far too difficult to reach,' said Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus who was present for the announcement. 'What makes it even more remarkable is that loans to more than 100 million very poor families now touch the lives of more than half a billion family members around the world. That is half of the world’s poorest people.'”

Dr. Yunus' lone voice at Davos reverberates (The Daily Star, Bangladesh) -"His remarks, made against the backdrop of the on-going global recession, drive the point home that for all the bailouts that governments have been planning for global corporate business not much can be expected if the plight of the poor is ignored."

Philanthrocapitalism: Yes We Can (Huffington Post) - "What cause, what movement brings together Tony Blair and Jet Li, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, Muhammad Yunus and Sir Richard Branson? In a word (albeit a hard-to-pronounce word), it is philanthrocapitalism....philanthrocapitalism is about doing well by doing good. Both Yunus and Branson enthused about how businesses should embrace social causes as a profit-making strategy, because the money earned by harnessing the profit motive can help achieve change faster, and more sustainably than old-fashioned charity alone."

The rich can save the world: we should let them (Times Online) - "Social entrepreneurs such as Dr Yunus tend to find that their bright ideas get nowhere inside state bureaucracies, whereas they can flourish with the support of business and philanthropy."

Microlending: Macro solution? ( - "...investment remains healthy in at least one area, a place where you might least expect it - microcredit banks making small, short-term loans to very poor people to help them start small, money-making enterprises and lift themselves out of poverty. It also might be a part of the solution for middle-class America. a conference call Monday with journalists, Yunus and other officials of the Microcredit Summit Campaign announced that they have reached 106 million poor families worldwide. About 97 percent of loans have been to women."

Grameen Bank: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due (CNBC) - "The problem with capitalism, Yunus tells Fast Money, is its distinction between companies pursuing profit and charities pursuing good. His bank model operates with corporate efficiency, but pumps profits back into social objectives."

World Economic Forum concludes on a sombre note (SwissInfo) - "'It's not just disappointment and frustrations,' said Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus said of the meeting's atmosphere. 'This is the greatest moment we have because things need to be changed, it's as simple as that. We don't want to go back to the same normalcy that we're coming from. We will create a new normalcy which will stay and keep on moving and change the world.'"

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