Keep My Word


Public Lecture by the Nobel Prize Winner, Mr Muhammad Yunus

Today, I went to a lecture by Mr Muhammad Yunus, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. That was so impressive; therefore I would like to write the summary of his lecture on this blog. (It may not be accurate because there was no interpreter and I didn't record it. This is based on what I jotted down.)


In 2008, we had different crises that destabilized the world; first we had the food crisis and then the economic crisis.

But what I'd like to remind you is that a crisis may give us an opportunity. We should talk about it more in the newspaper or on TV every day.

How can we notice this kind of opportunity?

By the way, these crises were caused by a small number of people in a certain country. Billions of dollars were lost and, as a consequence, half of the people in the word became victim.

Actually, most victims were economically challenged people. They suffered because we have the policies only beneficial to 10% of the people in the world. That is why after the crises we have to build a new well-designed system. The new system is not a frivolous one; it has to be something realistic to tackle fundamental problems.

Another thing I want to tell you is that people are not ' Money Making Machine', maybe we can say that we are a machine with multiple functions. That is one of the reasons why we have to aim for a new business style, 'Social Business' instead of being egoistic and pursuing our own profits.

Solving problems in society is the primary goal of Social Business. In its concept, competing companies don't exist. We all want to solve the same problem, thus we need to establish a good partnership to collaborate.

If we use technologies, many problems will be solved more quickly and easily.

(After this, Mr Yunus introduced several projects by Grameen Bank, for example it has tied up with Intel and they work together as Grameen Intel. It will also sign a contract with Adidas.)


One of the important elements is that we generate reasonable returns but not enormous profits. On the other hand, we're not donating money either; we're investing by lending money.

Poverty is not created by poor people. It is not their fault. It is created by banks' corporate structure and their system that don't allow to lend money if we can't show any assurance. Grameen Bank lends money to such people, but we are not responsible for their projects because that's their responsibilities.

(Although Grameen Bank doesn't ask for any guarantee and warranty, the repayment rate is over 98 %. There are some steps to lend money such as a mutual support system of teaming up with 4 other people, therefore borrowers become more responsible and they try to borrow a small amount of money enough for their project.)

I don't feel that it's necessary to persuade the government or big enterprises in order to achieve Social Business. This new system is based on individual's responsibilities.

Imagine this. In a supermarket, will you choose a product with some risks in terms of food safety? Even if the risk is so obvious, do you still buy it? I want to give only safe foods to our future generations.

Our basic idea is to pass safe and better things to our children.

The fundamental cause of the poverty is found in the structure, thus we need to change the structure itself.

But don't misunderstand me. It's not about me. You change the world. Don't expect other people to change the world.


Now, most companies are profit seeking. I want to say to young people who are about to enter the real world: create more Social Business than profit-seeking companies.

Anyone can start Social Business.

And they can change the world with Social Business.

Thank you for listening.



It’s originally posted in Japanese on the 17th March 2009.