Monday, January 28, 2008

Yunus @ St. James's Piccadilly

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus will speak at St. James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly on Saturday, February 16th at 2.30pm. His latest book Creating a World without Poverty – Social Business and the Future of Capitalism was recently launched in the US and is already in position 18 of the New York bestseller list.

After having been invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dr. Yunus comes to London to first speak at the London School of Economics on Friday, Feb. 15th at 6pm.

At St. James’s Church his talk will be responded to by a podium of distinguished Londoners. The first to confirm at this very short notice is:

Aubrey Meyer, promoter of Contraction & Convergence, a global, equal-rights-based framework for the arrest of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Yunus established the Grameen Bank in 1983 after having lent $27 to 42 women who were victims of loan sharks and recruiters of slave labour. Grameen means ‘rural’ or ‘village’ in Bengali.

After having studied economics at Dhaka University, Dr. Yunus was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He then served as chairman of the economics department at Chittagong University before devoting his life to providing financial and social services to the poorest of the poor. He is the founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank and the author of the bestselling Banker to the Poor.

Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank are winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for ‘their efforts to create economic and social development from below.’

In his new book, Dr. Yunus proposes ‘social business’ as a core principle for a kinder capitalism as Bill Gates called it in Davos. In Dr. Yunus’ definition, a business is social if it addresses health, education or environment or is owned by the poor and disadvantaged.

The condition for funding social business is that investors may not take profits out of the enterprise. That proposes a number of challenges on the level of ‘business as usual’. Between profit-motivated business and philanthropic charity, it provides a third way for entrepreneurs with social objectives.

The Forum for Stable Currencies is hosting the event as it has been advocating the use of public or ‘green’ credit to address climate change, finance flood damages and other public purposes through Early Day Motions in Parliament since 2002. The organiser Sabine McNeill says: “microcredit is for women in Bangladesh what green credit is for Government in the UK: credit without collateral. That means trust and cooperation top-down and bottom-up. For we have only one planet and time is running out. If Governments and NGOs don’t deliver, social businesses will, especially when banks and financial institutions begin to think along social objectives.”

BeTheChange will be set up for booking your place on Saturday in London and on Sunday in Bristol.

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