Poverty is endemic in Bangladesh. Currently, Bangladesh ranks 146 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking. Lack of adequate necessities, clothing, shelter, and healthcare constitutes poverty. The last 10 years saw a significant improvement in reversing the rising trend of poverty. Stable economic growth contributed to the fallen poverty rates. The government of Bangladesh has improved the distribution of healthcare, education, and other necessities. It has also supported microcredit programs which have empowered women and created jobs. Despite the progress, poverty remains a problem. Poverty inhibits progress and creates other problems such as hunger and malnutrition.
To describe the ill effects of poverty, Dr. Yunus writes, “It can expose them to life-threatening dangers. Because poverty denies people any semblance of control over their destiny, it is the ultimate denial of human rights. When freedom of speech or religion is violated in this country or that, global protests are often mobilized in response.” The consequences of poverty threaten the social and economic improvements that Bangladesh has achieved. It is not an option. Social business and microcredit programs must continue to flourish. Government reforms and policies must be sustained. Ongoing social, political, and economic empowerments are the answers to long-term prosperity in Bangladesh.
Dr. Yunus has given us an indispensable weapon – social business – to combat poverty and other social issues. This innovative model promotes investments by the business owners or the investors to eradicate social problems. In his book, Creating a World without Poverty, Dr. Yunus writes: “If you spend enough time living among the poor, you discover that their poverty arises from the fact that they cannot retain the genuine results of their labor. And the reason for this is clear: They have no control over capital. The poor work for the benefit of someone else who controls the capital.” Poverty is the root of the cause of our social problems. Poverty causes malnutrition, which causes preventable diseases to spread, leading to deaths among children and adults alike. This vicious cycle must be stopped. We must continue to invest in social business to break this cycle.