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Nobel Laureate shares insights at NUS Social Business Week

23 February 2012

Prof Yunus (left) and Prof Wong Poh Kam, Director of the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, during the forum

Social businesses are problem-solving businesses. You see a question and come up with solutions to design and create social businesses. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (2006) Prof Muhammad Yunus made these observations at a forum as part of the Social Business Week 2012, an annual event organised by the Grameen Creative Lab@NUS (GCL@NUS).

"If you are a social objective-driven company only, there is no powerful logic of profit anymore. We are free, we are only thinking of one thing - social business," said Prof Yunus, who is also Chairman of the Yunus Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The forum, titled "Using social business models to serve the bottom of the pyramid: lessons from far-sighted corporate leaders", is co-organised by GCL@NUS and the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy at the NUS Business School. It is supported by Family Business Network Asia and BOP Hub.

Delivering the opening address, Prof Bernard Yeung, Stephen Riady Distinguished Professor and Dean of the NUS Business School, said that social business is a meaningful but diverse sector needing different players working together for the common good.

Prof Yunus, together with corporate leaders from PhilipCapital, Unilever Asia and Yukiguni Maitake Co, shared experience and insights in embracing social business models to do good and do well.

For the Nobel Laureate, his success stories included the Grameen Danone Company which produces yoghurt to fill the nutritional deficits of children in Bangladesh and the partnership with sports apparel maker Adidas to produce low-cost shoes for the poor in Bangladesh.

He later fielded questions from the audience such as the elements of success for social businesses in developed and developing countries, as well as the financial sustainability of social businesses.

The Social Business Week 2012 is an initiative launched in 2011 by the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre. Some 750 participants are expected to attend the four-day event which aims to inspire, connect and engage with budding social entrepreneurs, encouraging them to develop social business plans. Activities include a social business boot camp, a forum targeting corporate leaders, and public lectures for youths and the civil society.