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Nobel Peace Prize winner calls for 'social business' in Taiwan

2012/08/16 14:23:00

Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus suggested Wednesday that Taiwan should set up "social business centers" in universities to address social problems such as poverty.

Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said he has been promoting the implementation of social business worldwide and urging people to get involved in enterprises with a public interest.

"Since I'm here, I'm hoping some universities would set up some kind of social business center, which some universities in other countries have done," the 72-year-old Bangladeshi economist said at a forum in Taipei.

Furthermore, Yunus said he hopes that some Taiwanese companies could establish social business groups to take a proactive approach to social responsibility.

"If Uniqlo has tried, if Unilever has tried, maybe we should try something too," Yunus added, referring to a Japanese fashion chain and a London-based consumer goods giant, respectively.

Yunus has been actively promoting the social business model because he believes it can enable even those with limited resources to build enterprises with global influence.

The concept of social business is that it has the potential to act as a change agent for the world, according to Yunus.

"Poverty is not distributed evenly around the world. Some of the countries that have enjoyed economic success over the past three decades have paid a heavy price, however," he said.

"The economic growth has worsened the social problems," Yunus noted. "Unfettered markets in their current form are not meant to solve social problems. Social business is the most logical thing to do."Known as the "Banker of the Poor," Yunus is on a five-day Asian tour, with Taiwan being his last stop following visits to Hong Kong and Beijing.

Yunus and Grameen Bank, a bank that Yunus founded to promote the concept of microcredit, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for their efforts to create economic and social development at the grassroots level in Bangladesh.

By establishing Grameen Bank in 1983, Yunus sought to realize his vision of self-support for the poor by offering small loans to people who would otherwise not have access to credit through conventional means.

Today Grameen Bank has over 8.4 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women, and disburses over US$1.5 billion each year. (By Jeffrey Wu)ENDITEM/npw