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Global social business leaders call for job creation

Publication Date : 08-11-2012


When much of Europe and other parts of the developed world are battered by the five-year-old financial crisis, one call rings out loud: create jobs.

A chorus call for creating jobs sets the context for this year's Global Social Business Summit which begins in Vienna today.

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus suggests social business is a way to fix the problems in capitalism and says when nothing seems to be working well enough in times of crisis, social business can be used as one of the tools.

Professor Yunus' longtime friend, Queen Sofia of Spain, will inaugurate the summit. Queen Sofia comes from a country which is saddled with the industrialised world's highest jobless rate. Spanish workers aged 16 to 24, face an astronomical 53.3 per cent unemployment rate, according to the nation's statistical agency.

In a brief interview with The Daly Star, Yunus, now in the capital of Austria, said key questions of the summit will be: how to create jobs for 7 billion people on the planet.

"When it comes to jobs for the unemployed, it reminds me of how the current economic system failed the young population," Yunus said. He wonders why the youth should still respect or follow the current economic system that fails to generate jobs for them.

"The youth have immense possibilities. They are not responsible for what they are going through," he said.

More than 600 experts from different backgrounds -- corporate, political and academic -- will join the Social Business Summit, now in its fourth year. The summit is being organised by Grameen Creative Lab of Germany and Yunus Centre under the leadership of Yunus, at the Austria Centre Vienna.

There are many young students and professionals who came from different parts of the world to learn, build a network and share their insights on social business, a new kind of enterprise based on the selflessness of people. It is a kind of business dedicated to solving social, economic and environmental problems that have long plagued mankind -- hunger, homelessness, disease, pollution, ignorance.

Juliana Fonseca Pontes, a 14-year-old student from Brazil, carried a book written by Yunus, to Vienna all the way from her home country. The Grameen-Danone story in Yunus' latest book, Building Social Business, inspired her the most. Pontes, who studies at Marista College back home, aspires to take up a social business in future.

"I came here to learn how to do development work without doing any damage to the nature," Pontes said in her short speech to a small gathering on the eve of the Social Business Summit. "I think social business is the solution to social problems."

The summit will open up a string of questions about the failure of traditional institutions and governments around the world.

"Giving money as much as you can to a country may not be sustainable. But social business brings a sustainable solution to a social problem," said Payal Patel, 19, who studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Social business is necessary because traditional institutions are failing, governments cannot solve all problems alone, and people are questioning the old models of development, she said.

Patel, who was born to Indian parents in Canada, takes pride in having roots in South Asia, the sub-continent where Yunus comes from.

The experts will try to analyse the roles of governments and the potential of young people in social business and entrepreneurs can leverage new technologies in translating social business concepts into real projects.

The purpose of the summit such as this is to gauge progress in social business and to foster a global network for like-minded thinkers, Yunus said, adding, "Our network is widening and the number of participants next year will double."

A special session at the summit will be devoted to celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 for the European Union.

Together with the EU representatives, discussion will centre on how the EU's experience can be combined with the potential of the social business concept to maintain peace worldwide, preventing growing inequality and other social problems. The expectation is that this will bring solutions to the world's worst social problems closer.

Companies like Danone, Intel Corporation, SAP, Veolia Water, Uniqlo, Renault and McCain will share their expertise and progress in developing innovative technology solutions within a social business framework.

The next year's Social Business Summit, the fifth, will take place in Malaysia, followed by the sixth summit in Rio de Janeiro, Yunus said.


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