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Beggars Can Turn to BusinessInBangladesh 80 percent of the poor families have already been reachedwith microcredit. We are hoping that by 2010, 100 per cent of the poorfamilies will be reached.Three years ago we started anexclusive programme focusing on the beggars. None of Grameen Bank’srules apply to them. Loans are interest-free; they can pay whateveramount they wish, whenever they wish. We gave them the idea to carrysmall merchandise such as snacks, toys or household items, when theywent from house to house for begging. The idea worked. There are now85,000 beggars in the program. About 5,000 of them have already stoppedbegging completely. Typical loan to a beggar is $12.Weencourage and support every conceivable intervention to help the poorfight out of poverty. We always advocate microcredit in addition to allother interventions, arguing that microcredit makes those interventionswork better.Information Technology for the PoorInformationand communication technology (ICT) is quickly changing the world,creating distanceless, borderless world of instantaneouscommunications. Increasingly, it is becoming less and less costly. Isaw an opportunity for the poor people to change their lives if thistechnology could be brought to them to meet their needs.As afirst step to bring ICT to the poor we created a mobile phone company,Grameen Phone. We gave loans from Grameen Bank to the poor women to buymobile phones to sell phone services in the villages. We saw thesynergy between microcredit and ICT.The phone business was asuccess and became a coveted enterprise for Grameen borrowers.Telephone-ladies quickly learned and innovated the ropes of thetelephone business, and it has become the quickest way to get out ofpoverty and to earn social respectability. Today there are nearly300,000 telephone ladies providing telephone service in all thevillages of Bangladesh . Grameen Phone has more than 10 millionsubscribers, and is the largest mobile phone company in the country.Although the number of telephone-ladies is only a small fraction of thetotal number of subscribers, they generate 19 per cent of the revenueof the company. Out of the nine board members who are attending thisgrand ceremony today 4 are telephone-ladies.Grameen Phone is ajoint-venture company owned by Telenor of Norway and Grameen Telecom ofBangladesh. Telenor owns 62 per cent share of the company, GrameenTelecom owns 38 per cent. Our vision was to ultimately convert thiscompany into a social business by giving majority ownership to the poorwomen of Grameen Bank. We are working towards that goal. SomedayGrameen Phone will become another example of a big enterprise owned bythe poor.Free Market EconomyCapitalism centers on the freemarket. It is claimed that the freer the market, the better is theresult of capitalism in solving the questions of what, how, and forwhom. It is also claimed that the individual search for personal gainsbrings collective optimal result.I am in favor of strengtheningthe freedom of the market. At the same time, I am very unhappy aboutthe conceptual restrictions imposed on the players in the market. Thisoriginates from the assumption that entrepreneurs are one-dimensionalhuman beings, who are dedicated to one mission in their business lives3/4 to maximize profit. This interpretation of capitalism insulates theentrepreneurs from all political, emotional, social, spiritual,environmental dimensions of their lives. This was done perhaps as areasonable simplification, but it stripped away the very essentials ofhuman life.Human beings are a wonderful creation embodied withlimitless human qualities and capabilities. Our theoretical constructsshould make room for the blossoming of those qualities, not assume themaway.Many of the world’s problems exist because of thisrestriction on the players of free-market. The world has not resolvedthe problem of crushing poverty that half of its population suffers.Healthcare remains out of the reach of the majority of the worldpopulation. The country with the richest and freest market fails toprovide healthcare for one-fifth of its population.We haveremained so impressed by the success of the free-market that we neverdared to express any doubt about our basic assumption. To make itworse, we worked extra hard to transform ourselves, as closely aspossible, into the one-dimensional human beings as conceptualized inthe theory, to allow smooth functioning of free market mechanism.Bydefining “entrepreneur” in a broader way we can change the character ofcapitalism radically, and solve many of the unresolved social andeconomic problems within the scope of the free market. Let us supposean entrepreneur, instead of having a single source of motivation (suchas, maximizing profit), now has two sources of motivation, which aremutually exclusive, but equally compelling 3/4 a) maximization ofprofit and b) doing good to people and the world.Each type ofmotivation will lead to a separate kind of business. Let us call thefirst type of business a profit-maximizing business, and the secondtype of business as social business.Social business will be anew kind of business introduced in the market place with the objectiveof making a difference in the world. Investors in the social businesscould get back their investment, but will not take any dividend fromthe company. Profit would be ploughed back into the company to expandits outreach and improve the quality of its product or service. Asocial business will be a non-loss, non-dividend company.Oncesocial business is recognized in law, many existing companies will comeforward to create social businesses in addition to their foundationactivities. Many activists from the non-profit sector will also findthis an attractive option. Unlike the non-profit sector where one needsto collect donations to keep activities going, a social business willbe self-sustaining and create surplus for expansion since it is anon-loss enterprise. Social business will go into a new type of capitalmarket of its own, to raise capital.Young people all around theworld, particularly in rich countries, will find the concept of socialbusiness very appealing since it will give them a challenge to make adifference by using their creative talent. Many young people today feelfrustrated because they cannot see any worthy challenge, which excitesthem, within the present capitalist world. Socialism gave them a dreamto fight for. Young people dream about creating a perfect world oftheir own.Almost all social and economic problems of the worldwill be addressed through social businesses. The challenge is toinnovate business models and apply them to produce desired socialresults cost-effectively and efficiently. Healthcare for the poor,financial services for the poor, information technology for the poor,education and training for the poor, marketing for the poor, renewableenergy − these are all exciting areas for social businesses.Socialbusiness is important because it addresses very vital concerns ofmankind. It can change the lives of the bottom 60 per cent of worldpopulation and help them to get out of poverty.Grameen’s Social BusinessEvenprofit maximizing companies can be designed as social businesses bygiving full or majority ownership to the poor. This constitutes asecond type of social business. Grameen Bank falls under this categoryof social business.The poor could get the shares of thesecompanies as gifts by donors, or they could buy the shares with theirown money. The borrowers with their own money buy Grameen Bank shares,which cannot be transferred to non-borrowers. A committed professionalteam does the day-to-day running of the bank.Bilateral andmulti-lateral donors could easily create this type of social business.When a donor gives a loan or a grant to build a bridge in the recipientcountry, it could create a “bridge company” owned by the local poor. Acommitted management company could be given the responsibility ofrunning the company. Profit of the company will go to the local poor asdividend, and towards building more bridges. Many infrastructureprojects, like roads, highways, airports, seaports, utility companiescould all be built in this manner.Grameen has created twosocial businesses of the first type. One is a yogurt factory, toproduce fortified yogurt to bring nutrition to malnourished children,in a joint venture with Danone. It will continue to expand until allmalnourished children of Bangladesh are reached with this yogurt.Another is a chain of eye-care hospitals. Each hospital will undertake10,000 cataract surgeries per year at differentiated prices to the richand the poor.Social Stock MarketTo connect investors withsocial businesses, we need to create social stock market where only theshares of social businesses will be traded. An investor will come tothis stock-exchange with a clear intention of finding a socialbusiness, which has a mission of his liking. Anyone who wants to makemoney will go to the existing stock-market.To enable a socialstock-exchange to perform properly, we will need to create ratingagencies, standardization of terminology, definitions, impactmeasurement tools, reporting formats, and new financial publications,such as, The Social Wall Street Journal. Business schools will offercourses and business management degrees on social businesses to trainyoung managers how to manage social business enterprises in the mostefficient manner, and, most of all, to inspire them to become socialbusiness entrepreneurs themselves.Role of Social Businesses in GlobalizationIsupport globalization and believe it can bring more benefits to thepoor than its alternative. But it must be the right kind ofglobalization. To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highwaycriss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its laneswill be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies.Bangladeshi rickshaw will be thrown off the highway. In order to have awin-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, andtraffic authority for this global highway. Rule of “strongest takes itall” must be replaced by rules that ensure that the poorest have aplace and piece of the action, without being elbowed out by the strong.Globalization must not become financial imperialism.Powerfulmulti-national social businesses can be created to retain the benefitof globalization for the poor people and poor countries. Socialbusinesses will either bring ownership to the poor people, or keep theprofit within the poor countries, since taking dividends will not betheir objective. Direct foreign investment by foreign social businesseswill be exciting news for recipient countries. Building strongeconomies in the poor countries by protecting their national interestfrom plundering companies will be a major area of interest for thesocial businesses.We Create What We WantWe get what wewant, or what we don’t refuse. We accept the fact that we will alwayshave poor people around us, and that poverty is part of human destiny.This is precisely why we continue to have poor people around us. If wefirmly believe that poverty is unacceptable to us, and that it shouldnot belong to a civilized society, we would have built appropriateinstitutions and policies to create a poverty-free world.Wewanted to go to the moon, so we went there. We achieve what we want toachieve. If we are not achieving something, it is because we have notput our minds to it. We create what we want.What we want andhow we get to it depends on our mindsets. It is extremely difficult tochange mindsets once they are formed. We create the world in accordancewith our mindset. We need to invent ways to change our perspectivecontinually and reconfigure our mindset quickly as new knowledgeemerges. We can reconfigure our world if we can reconfigure our mindset.We Can Put Poverty in the MuseumsIbelieve that we can create a poverty-free world because poverty is notcreated by poor people. It has been created and sustained by theeconomic and social system that we have designed for ourselves; theinstitutions and concepts that make up that system; the policies thatwe pursue.Poverty is created because we built our theoreticalframework on assumptions which under-estimates human capacity, bydesigning concepts, which are too narrow (such as concept of business,credit- worthiness, entrepreneurship, employment) or developinginstitutions, which remain half-done (such as financial institutions,where poor are left out). Poverty is caused by the failure at theconceptual level, rather than any lack of capability on the part ofpeople.I firmly believe that we can create a poverty-free worldif we collectively believe in it. In a poverty-free world, the onlyplace you would be able to see poverty is in the poverty museums. Whenschool children take a tour of the poverty museums, they would behorrified to see the misery and indignity that some human beings had togo through. They would blame their forefathers for tolerating thisinhuman condition, which existed for so long, for so many people.Ahuman being is born into this world fully equipped not only to takecare of him or herself, but also to contribute to enlarging the wellbeing of the world as a whole. Some get the chance to explore theirpotential to some degree, but many others never get any opportunity,during their lifetime, to unwrap the wonderful gift they were bornwith. They die unexplored and the world remains deprived of theircreativity, and their contribution.Grameen has given me anunshakeable faith in the creativity of human beings. This has led me tobelieve that human beings are not born to suffer the misery of hungerand poverty.To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When youplant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get areplica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrongwith the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate.Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds.Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs toget the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enablingenvironment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy andcreativity, poverty will disappear very quickly.Let us join hands to give every human being a fair chance to unleash their energy and creativity.Ladies and Gentlemen,Letme conclude by expressing my deep gratitude to the Norwegian NobelCommittee for recognizing that poor people, and especially poor women,have both the potential and the right to live a decent life, and thatmicrocredit helps to unleash that potential.I believe thishonor that you give us will inspire many more bold initiatives aroundthe world to make a historical breakthrough in ending global poverty.Thank you very much.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

shia & sunni burning Iraq

Itwas encouraging to see Sunni and Shia religious leaders meet on October19, 2006 in the holy city of Makkah. The leaders made a plea togetherfor an end to sectarian bloodshed, especially in Iraq. The meeting wasorganized by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and backed bySaudi Arabia. Unfortunately the effect of the meeting has been limited.( MAKKAH AL-MUKARRAMAH DECLARATION ON THE IRAQI SITUATION )Meetingjust once and making statements against “violence”is not enough. Thereneeds to be a sincere will and sustained approach to resolve the Sunniand Shia conflict. Leaders from Iraq, Iran and other parts of the worldshould meet on a regular basis to address the ongoing conflict in Iraq.They must go back to the most basic massage of the Quran about thedignity of the children of Adam that cannot be preserved withoutensuring their right to life.Even if they fail to resolve theirdisagreements, they must make a loud and clear unified declaration thatviolence must never be allowed to resolve their differences becauseviolence is anti-divine.

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About Me  My Photo Name: Hatz Location: KL or SG, Selangor, MY

Hatz is a designer/producer exploring abstract kinetic systems throughdiverse digital new media including unique 2D/3D motion design, shortfilms, current affair/travel documentary, music videos, network TVidents/promos and creative design. Born in Johor, raised and educatedin Singapore. He is currently an Associate Producer for SatelliteChannel base in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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I watch this award winning documentary by fellow journalist William Nessen, “The Black Road – Inside Aceh’s Struggle for Independence” which was banned from the 8th Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) in November 2006. An amazing testimony about the war in Aceh before the peace agreement. Watch the lives (and deaths) of Acehs guerrillas, its human rights activists and its ordinary farmers. March with the demonstrators and witness the ensuing massacres. This 52-minute documentary is a must for anyone interested in and concerned with Aceh. Seems that I can’t put down this book about Sheikh Sharafuddin Maneri /India/1346-47. He wrote an outline of the Sufi Path to God in the form of a hundred letters to a disciple. This collection quickly became well known and has been translated as “In Quest of God: Maneri’s Second Collection of 150 Letters”. In 1368 a disciple collected all the letters he could find of Maneris replies written to various individuals. The letters offer spiritual and religious guidance and encouragement and serve as a complement to the earlier book, a more general collection. The Journey of the Soul: Story of Hai Bin Yaqzan is a truly remarkable product of 12th century Moorish Spain. Professor Philip Hitti, in his History of the Arabs, characterizes the work as one of the most delightful and original in the literature of the Middle Ages. It is widely regarded as the prototype for Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe. Best described, perhaps, as a philosophical romance, it tells the story of a young man, cast upon a deserted island as an infant, suckled and reared by a doe, who succeeds by his own efforts in fitting himself for life in his natural environment. The author, Ibn Tufail, was one of the outstanding philosophers and scientists of his day and hence many strands are woven into fabrics of the tale: Hais physiology, on the process of evolution, on the scientific method all find their places in knowledge which his observation and intuition combine to produce. Above all, the book is an allegory of the path towards enlightenment.var ccm_cfg = { pth:’http://www.moonmodule.com/cs/’, fn:’ccm_v1.swf’, lg:’en’, hs:1, tc:’FFFFFF’, bg:’000000′, mc:”, fw:79, fh:116.4, js:0, msp:0 }about the moon My Chat, Location & Visitors View My Detailed Location(but don’t stalk me please)www.gvisit.comrecent readersYou!Join Our Community<img src=”http://s3.amazonaws.com/buzz_img/2007
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  • It is claimed that the freer the market, the better is theresult of capitalism in solving the questions of what, how, and forwhom.
  • Bydefining “entrepreneur” in a broader way we can change the character ofcapitalism radically, and solve many of the unresolved social andeconomic problems within the scope of the free market.