Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs

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PublicAffairs, May 11, 2010 - Business & Economics - 256 pages
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Muhammad Yunus, the practical visionary who pioneered microcredit and, with his Grameen Bank, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has developed a visionary new dimension for capitalism which he calls “social business.” By harnessing the energy of profit-making to the objective of fulfilling human needs, social business creates self-supporting, viable commercial enterprises that generate economic growth even as they produce goods and services that make the world a better place.

In this book, Yunus shows how social business has gone from being a theory to an inspiring practice, adopted by leading corporations, entrepreneurs, and social activists across Asia, South America, Europe and the US. He demonstrates how social business transforms lives; offers practical guidance for those who want to create social businesses of their own; explains how public and corporate policies must adapt to make room for the social business model; and shows why social business holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.


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Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs

User Review  - Carol J. Elsen - Book Verdict

Yunus (Creating a World Without Poverty) uses the selfish/selfless dichotomy of human nature to explain the fundamental difference between his concept of for-profit business vs. the social business ... Read full review

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Book recounts Social Business
By Nava Thakuria
Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus is out of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh today, but he is very much influential in the policy making body of other Grameen sister concerns. And Prof Yunus is now more visible in public lectures, serious discussions and interaction with young generations around the globe.
The visionary banker is now preaching for a different kind of economic enterprise that emphasizes on social development and not the profit for the investors. Prof Yunus terms it as Social Business, a form of business that seeks to solve social problems. And his latest book ‘Building Social Business’ describes all about ‘the new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs’.
Published by the University Press Limited, Dhaka 1000 (, the gorgeous book (written by Prof Yunus with Karl Weber) with over 250 pages priced at Taka 395 (1 USD =60 Bangladeshi Taka). First published in USA by Public Affairs, the Bangladeshi edition of the book was published in June 2010 with its second impression in August 2010.
The book analyses about a new kind of capitalism and enterprise based on the selflessness of people which Prof Yunus calls social business. It’s a kind of business dedicated to solving social, economic and environmental problems that have long plagued humankind- hunger, homelessness, disease, pollution, ignorance, argues Prof Yunus.
Actually the social business is a new category of cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend (profit) beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, and no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make profit, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy etc in a business way, elaborated Prof Yunus.
There may be two types of social business. The first one focuses on businesses dealing with social objectives only with no-loss, no-dividend structure. The second one takes up any profitable business so long as it is owned by the poor and the disadvantaged, who can gain through receiving direct dividends or by some indirect benefits. There are various ways how the ownership can go to the poor. Occasionally both of them may be mixed where a socially beneficial rural infrastructure can be erected whose ownership will later go to the poor.
“It brings a new dimension to the business world, and a new feeling of social awareness among the business community. But I am not opposed to making profit. Even social businesses are allowed to make profit with the condition that profit stays with the company; the owners will not take profit beyond the amount equivalent to investment,” explained Prof Yunus.
The man, who has shown the way of a dignified life for millions of Bangladeshi poor women through micro-finance, argues that the present concept of entrepreneurship is one-dimensional—to maximize profits. By defining entrepreneur in a broader way, one can change the character of capitalism radically and solve many of the unresolved social and economic problems within the scope of the free market.
“Let us suppose an entrepreneur, instead of having a single source of motivation (only increasing profit), now has two sources of motivation, which are mutually exclusive, but equally compelling—maximization of profit and doing good to people and the world,” Prof Yunus explained.
He at the same time pointed out, if profit and greed are the sole driving force in modern society then why we should have churches, mosques, temples, schools, art museums, public parks or community healthcare centres and why would there be any charities, foundations, non-profit organizations?
Fortunately for us


Why Social Business?
Growing Pains
Launching a Social Business
To Cure One Child
Legal and Financial Frameworks for Social Business
Grameen Veolia Water
Creating a Global Infrastructure for Social Business
Glimpses of Tomorrow
The End of Poverty

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About the author (2010)

Muhammad Yunus was born in Chittagong , Bangladesh, educated at Dhaka University, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University, and became head of the economics department at Chittagong University in 1972. He is the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank. Yunus and Grameen Bank are winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Karl Weber is a writer based in Irvington, New York. He co-authored Yunus’s best-selling book, Creating a World Without Poverty.