Creating a World Without Poverty

I’ve just finished reading the book from Muhammad Yunus – the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner. It is an inspiring book that can touch your heart and motivate you to fight against poverty. At the same time, it did not quite match my expectations in terms of content, so I’d like to make clear in this review what you should and should not expect from this great book.

First of all, Muhammad Yunus presents his vision of the social business. It is a powerful idea based on challenging the assumption of one-dimensional human beings that aim at maximizing profit. This concept lies at the core of established economic theories, and supports the current notion of the business that should maximize value for its shareholders. The social business is totally dedicated to solving social or environmental problems. It is different from charities or NGO’s as it does not generate losses, and it’s different from profit-maximizing businesses as it does not pay dividend.

Furthermore, the author gives an account of real social businesses that he has created. It starts with Grameen Bank, the microcredit organization providing banking services to the poor people from Bangladesh, including beggars. Grameen Bank is a huge success story, and its model has been reapplied in numerous countries. Another example is Grameen-Danone yoghurt factory that aims at improving the diet of poor Bangladeshi children. It’s been recently opened as a joint venture between the Danone corporation and Grameen Bank, and it follows the social business model as described by Yunus.

Finally, the reader is confronted with a vision of the world where poverty can only be seen in museums. I would compare this part of the book to a manifesto that describes the building blocks of a new world where social business can flourish, the environmental problems are resolved by mutual consensus between nations, and the information and communication technologies help the developing nations to participate in and benefit from the globalized market.

It is important to note what you should not expect from this book. It definitely isn’t an instruction, or a how-to guide for creating a social business. It isn’t a science book either – instead of presenting sound models and theories, the author focuses on his vision and experience, and the book is an account of real-life stories and examples.

The value of Creating a World Without Poverty lies in the inspiration it provides, in fascinating real-life examples of the author’s journey to eliminate poverty in his country. It may sometimes sound like a science-fiction vision, but the example of Grameen Bank shows that nothing described in this book is impossible. It’s a must-read.

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