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Nobel Winner Rethinks Business from Ground Up

Jan 13, 2008 (All Things Considered)

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Muhammad Yunus' ideas about lending to the poor have changed lives in his native Bangladesh and beyond.

Known as the "banker to the poor," Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has helped people rise above poverty by giving them small, usually unsecured loans through his Grameen Bank.

Now Yunus has written about his next big idea in Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. He calls his vision "social business" — a model where entrepreneurs can apply their creative, social and altruistic vision to the world's most pressing problems, such as poverty and homelessness.

Through Grameen Bank, Yunus has applied this altruistic business model to his own work. The bank has set up several companies, including Grameen Telecom — in partnership with the Norwegian phone company Telenor — and Grameen Danone, a partnership with French food and beverage maker Danone.

The businesses don't depend on contributions — they aim at self-sufficiency, and expand depending on how much they make. Yunus describes the challenges and triumphs of creating and maintaining these business models in some of the poorest areas in the world.

Andrea Seabrook spoke with Yunus about social business, its impact and challenges.

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