Summary of Creating a World Without Poverty

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In this excellent, provocative book, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus sets forth his vision for a new kind of enterprise, social business, managed according to businesslike principles but with the uncapitalistic objective of social benefit. This is no untried, pie-in-the-sky proposal. Yunus pioneered this business model when he founded the world-famous microcredit financial institution, Grameen Bank. More recently, working with France’s Groupe Danone, he set up a business to produce and market fortified yogurt in Bangladesh. This book tells the story of the author’s involvement in social businesses and offers stimulating suggestions for their future evolution. getAbstract recommends it to forward-thinking business leaders and entrepreneurs who want their projects to benefit not just themselves but their societies at large.

About the Author

Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen Bank, the pioneering microcredit financial institution that helped lift many poor villagers out of poverty. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.



The Problem with Capitalism

Capitalism has many advantages, but it has just as many limitations and deficiencies. It lacks an ethical foundation or social conscience. Although the philosophy of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) calls for businesses to aim for a “triple bottom line,” of “financial, social and environmental benefits,” the capitalist system effectively forbids them to put social responsibility first. Sooner or later, when social benefits conflict with the interest of investors, the investors must win. For conventional businesses, social responsibility eventually results in financial irresponsibility.

Under untrammeled capitalism, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the strong rule over and marginalize the weak. These current mechanisms to curb and control capitalism in the interests of the poor have proven inadequate:

1. Government

Certainly governments can help. In many developed countries, democratic systems and sophisticated regulatory regimes offer protection against pollution, fraud, harmful products and other social ills. These countries also have well-developed infrastructures for the exchange of information and capital...

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    G. N. 10 years ago
    I am well pleased to be the winner of the getAbstract Free Book Contest. I have effectively received my precious copy of the book titled 'Creating a World Without Poverty' by Muhammad Yunus. It is a great experience to be chosen amongst many and I value all those who took part in this competition. I am heartily grateful to the entire getAbstract team for this wonderful initiative, for their great intellectual potential and for their prompt action with respect to my reward. The book is really interesting and I wish as many people as possible read and apply knowledge from it.
    Happy new year 2011 to all reviewers/competitors at to the getAbstract team.
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    A. 10 years ago
    Congratulations to Godswill Ntsomboh for winning the getAbstract Free Book Contest!

    Godswill was chosen for his thorough understanding of the book and his insights about moving social responsibility forward. He will receive a coy of “Creating a World Without Poverty” by Muhammad Yunus.

    Happy Holidays,
    Your getAbstract Team
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    S. S. 10 years ago
    The book effectiveky conveys the simple message that social businesses should be managed using business principles but with a non-capitalistic purpose to drive social benefit. The busines model has been tried and tested in the Grameen Bank in a country that has seen the worst of poverty. The book provides the much needed inspiration to capitalist die-hards in working towards a social cause without taking on the additional burdens of a socialist state. In a highly objective way, it also points out the inefficacies of other social vehicles that may have a good intent but bad operating model.

    While it provokes the thought on the much-needed evolution of the social business in scale and scope, it also prompts several questions. What's needed to create the likes of several such entities in other countries that need them the most? Is there a tipping point at which the social business takes on the road of its capitalist cousin to increase social benefits? How do you continue to motivate the employees who have a cause to work for but are also constrained by the needs and norms of an all pervasive society around them? All in all, when we all want to alleviate poverty, why can we not play a part in it?

    I suppose it does take the likes of someone like Muhammad Yunus to have a singular goal to eliminate poverty and work whole-heartedly towards it. It takes a lot more to create several like him. Hopefully, understanding his work is a good first step.
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    a. f. 10 years ago
    This great book provides a new perspective to Businesses. I think the added value is that we can make a difference in the social sector and still use the strategies of the Business world. Its a blend of the soul of social concerns and the efficiency of the Profit- making secto.A Great book
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    G. P. 10 years ago
    An inspiring person whose work is genuinely making a difference in the world. From small beginnings, Dr Yunus and his colleagues built a multi-billion dollar social business by helping others to help themselves. Grameen Bank's focus on women and the use of "solidarity groups" of mutual support has been fundamental to their extraordinarily high repayment rates, and key to creating a solid foundation to build upon. This book certainly makes me realize that having good ideas (as I'm sure we all have from time to time) is one thing, but as I believe an old Indian proverb says "a pearl is worthless as long as it is still in its shell". So let's go open some more shells!
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    C. A. 10 years ago
    This is an interesting theory, building on the wisdom that the love of money is the root of evil; i.e. Capitalism. I do not believe social business is functional only in an environment devoid of capitalism. Incentives could be created to encourage social businesses, such as grants, government funded micro-loans, tax incentives.

    To create this paradigm shift within a Capitalist nation; start with the youth. Social Businesses could utilize interns to run the company within the Mission of Social responsibility via the social business model. This would allow students to gain experience running companies while learning to build on an ethical foundation.

    I am grateful for Yunus' efforts to eliminate poverty and for being the example Social Business at Grameen bank. He is the living example of how social awareness coupled with action can make a difference in our world.
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    R. P. 10 years ago
    I think it is a good idea and well though but fear that even if you start a social business with good intentions you will still would like to get some extra money so after some time the social business might turn back into old capitalistic business.
    Another way to approach the same idea is to let young bright students run for 1 or 2 years this type of social business and by the time they start loosing their social intentions replace them by new idealists.
    For companies this could be a good way to train young executives and you learn some abroad experience and you reduce poverty in the world
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    K. T. 10 years ago
    Enlightening and inspirational book. I'm grateful for Yunus' voice and action. Hopefully more will hear, and do, because he does ~ and shares.
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    J. D. 10 years ago
    Yunus lays out a clear explanation of social business and how it differs from corporations, non profits, and governmental organization. It is a very enlightening and compelling concept for the future of business, especially the business of philanthropy via self-sustaining organizations which exist not to maximize profit, but to eradicate of poverty. Yunus’s concepts bring to mind Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s description of the South African concept of Ubuntu: “We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
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    B. V. 10 years ago
    While lot of initiatives have been taken that do benefit some section of society, there is no evidence in History that shows that poverty has been eliminated by Social initiatives. Countries like Bangladesh still remain one of the poorest countries in the world.

    When a country becomes rich by utilizing its natural resources, protects intellectual property & takes adequate social initiatives for the poor will poverty be reduced
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    J. C. 10 years ago
    I really enoyed this summary and found it very enlightening. Providing borrowers with the knowledge on how to become successfull entrepreneurs is key.
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    A. 10 years ago
    I really like the concept of microfinance institutions and social businesses. However, when poverty is so widespread, how do you ensure that borrowers actually use the money to invest correctly in their small businesses? In order to help these borrowers become successful entrepreneurs, it is crucial to also provide them with some educational services. You can't expect someone to become a fisherman without showing him how to fish.
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      Koni Gebistorf 10 years ago
      Good point, Laura. I have no idea if there is any control mechanism, a way to make sure that the credit really IS invested in business. So far, none of the books on the topic seems to mention that.
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      Lisa Sudo 10 years ago
      I really enjoyed this read, it shares some of the ideals of a social business model I am working on. The statistics on global poverty are so staggering, I for one, can longer turn a deafened ear. This is the second piece I stumbled upon this week alone, of similar content. I am further inspired by knowing there are more. Many of us are awakening to higher aspirations than the pursuit of wealth. As we are living through our economic downturn we are also more cognizant of what truly matters. Not just for our own households but for others and for our future on this planet.

      I do not believe it takes large numbers to solve large problems. Though I believe it is often why we are instead prone to look away. The issues appear too large to resolve, individually. However, I rather like the idea of small contributions, made by many, as a potential way to deal with our larger problems. Nearly everyone of us, has something to give, even if it's just a little bit - as in the case of this story and the $27 loan, especially the majority of us in developed nations.

      I have a hard time knowing that a feature film release earns $500+ million dollars for (2 hours) entertainment, while 2.6 billion people are struggling to live daily on less than the cost of a latte! (Tim Jackson)

      Something's Gotta Give! I'm ready, how about you?
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      Erica Rauzin 10 years ago
      I wanted to respond to J. Duly's comment above just to note that our upcoming Abstract, "Rice Wine with the Minister" also touches upon the concept of "Ubuntu" when it compares individualistic societies and collective societies. That should be online this month (December 2010). Coming up next year, we have Yunus' next book where he goes into some of the issues raised here, including the practical work and accomplishments of microfinancing as one way to fight poverty. He agrees with Bhavesh Vora (above) that no specific kind of initiative can eliminate poverty on its own and discusses the role this approach can play. (– Managing Editor, getAbstract)
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      charles shoemaker 10 years ago
      As long as there is a differential between what one person has and what another has poverty will be viewed as being with society. Whether that differential is based on location, education, ability or desire to work, age or gender someone will view a one person or group as being poor and others rich. Someone in the United States making some given level of income who is viewed as poor would be considered rich in Africa for example in comparision to their neighbors. Poverty will be with us unless every person in the world has exactly the same amount of wealth. That seems to imply those that won't work should be equal in wealth to those that want to achieve and rise to a higher level. That certainly wouldn't be a great society to live in.
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      Sherly Chen 10 years ago
      Poverty is wealth created by God. Poverty in one state is wealth in another state. If the world was one state, then there'd be like minds and constant repulsion rather than attractive innovation. The means to an end for CSR comprise financial, social and environmental. All of this demise would not exist had poverty not exist. All factors therefore play a very configurative role towards the eradication of poverty. That poverty would someday exist only in the museum is yet another dilemma in the world of collective thoughts based on 'human jurisprudence'. It is however imperative to add that justice must prevail with ethical considerations and so as human beings, we cannot indulge in selfish attitudes by eliminating ourselves from our environment. To help others gain independence, we are certain to join in the war to help create a world without poverty.
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      GODSWILL NTSOMBOH 10 years ago
      From my stand point, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in this book presents a new concept: social business, blocks to poverty alleviation, and their uplifting through social business as against capitalism. What is the purpose of life and entrepreneurship if it can not benefit societies at large? Forward-thinking business leaders should actually tap this invaluable information; getting it live from someone with hands-on experience gives added value to the concept. This concept challenges the capitalist myth which says that “For conventional businesses, social responsibility eventually results in financial irresponsibility.” Furthermore, it is supposed that everything can be put under control by conventional systems. Muhammad Yunus informs through this book that even the most organized governments are vulnerable to bureaucracy, corruption, inefficiency and control by powerful interest groups and that Governments alone cannot solve the problem of poverty. Social business, his proposed solution, certainly has solid backing especially as it stems from live experience. Multilaterals and Nonprofit organizations on their part could be efficient in poverty alleviation if they seized from being selfinterested or if funds will flow even in difficult times, precisely when the poor are in the greatest need. Social Businesses have as main business motive not to make money but rather to provide a social benefit. They reinvest their profits in expansion, so they can benefit more people. Through the Grameen Bank and …, Yunus set up a legitimate mechanism to enable the poor in Bangladesh escape the grip of the Moneylenders and climb out of poverty based on the fact that poor people are a good credit risk…Moreover, an endeavor to defend the social business concept is his joint venture model with Groupe Danone which is that of a social business, which sells products, reinvests profits in the enterprise and pays no dividends to investors. This involves “thinking small”, a novelty that leads the multinationals to discover that a small plant can operate as cost effectively as a large one with valuable prospects. It is comforting to know that through Social Business the end of poverty is within reach. The poor are not poor because of deficiency of character or unwillingness to work hard. They are poor because institutions and regulations that work for the wealthy do not work for them. This is a big challenge to Capitalism which gives businesses no incentive to serve the poor and great incentive to exploit them. Yunus suggests through experience that the structures and approaches of profit-making businesses can be applied in the service of socially beneficial objectives. Finally, “Social business can take great ideas out of the realm of fantasy and turn them into reality. Social business, with its emphasis on careful accounting for social benefits, can make development without environmental destruction possible. The day may come when people will have to go to museums to learn about poverty.”
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      m f 10 years ago
      From my stand point, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in this book presents a old concept
      yes i mean it and most of us can now that if we appliedd the concept of religions because i think most of religions speak about poors and help them ,for example ISLAM aske about this and there are many way to do it if any one cant understand it from god books or do not know how to apply then:
      Muhammad Yunus give us practical way and method to do but the question :
      who and how many can apply