Social Business and the Environment

April 15, 2012

Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh speaks to students during the Young Global Leaders session at the Swiss alpine school during the Annual Meeting 2010 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 29, 2010. Photo by Andy Mettler

Our environment is in serious crisis. As sea levels continue to rise due to global warming, Bangladesh faces an existential threat.

Social business must be implemented along with existing initiatives that are in place to save the environment. In doing so, not only will we be able to save our environment, we will be able to enrich it. But we must act now. We must act to create a livable, survivable, and safe environment. And we know we are already armed with a powerful weapon to combat the crisis – social business.

Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus continues to stress the potential of social business as a means to eliminate many of the social ills we face today. He also knows that the younger generation has the talent, capabilities, and technologies to effectively change the world. “We must use young people to harness the power of social business,” Dr. Yunus has said previously.

To provide clean water, Bangladesh has undertaken the world’s first social business initiatives. A new partnership called Grameen-Veolia Water Ltd was created in 2008 to provide clean water to the poorest in Bangladesh. Grameen-Veolia Water Ltd further partnered with Grameen Healthcare Services and Violia Water AMI Ltd to distribute purified water to people in Bangladesh by 2012.

The elimination of forests, global warming, loss of animal lives, and carbon pollution continue to threaten our existence.

Bangladesh must undertake social business initiatives throughout the country. Poor people by far are the most vulnerable victims of environmental pollution. To save them, businesses must come forward and adopt social business. They have the financial resources to successfully undertake social business initiatives. Big businesses can produce the basic necessities of life in a cost effective way and continue to make profits. Big businesses can enter the social business arena easily but smaller businesses may not the have necessary economy of scale. Large companies in Bangladesh should be targeted to adopt social business initiatives and the environment must be one of them.

Social business benefits society as a whole. Helping communities survive and be sustainable is the primary focus of social business.

Dr. Yunus has previously stated that young graduates first look for jobs after graduation. “This must change,” according to Dr. Yunus.

He stresses that the ultimate goal of Bangladesh’s educational system should be to benefit Bangladesh as a whole. “We must provide social business opportunities for the college graduates,” Dr. Yunus has stated.

One of Grameen’s initiatives, Grameen Shakti, has undertaken providing solar energy in villages throughout Bangladesh. To date, Grameen Shakti has provided solar panels to 70,000 households. Initiatives like this will create an ecological balance.

Other social business projects like Grameen Bank Biogas is providing portable low-cost and low-maintenance cooking stoves to the poorest people in Bangladesh.

Technologies in natural science have improved dramatically.

These advancements have enabled us to predict weather patterns, which saves lives during hurricanes, massive storms, and other natural disasters. In today’s globally connected world, disasters in one country may affect many others. Therefore, we must proactively undertake initiatives to preserve our environment.

Social business is a new idea but its potential has already reached beyond the borders of many countries in the world, as it continues to enrich our lives.

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