On April 18, the economist and banker Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, was hosted by BBS to conclude with the Master Lecture The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment and Zero Carbon Emissions, the day dedicated to microcredit and social business promoted by Fondazione Grameen Italia, Bologna Business School and the University of Bologna.
The meeting began in the morning at the Campus of Forlì, a center of national importance in the social economy, where the Nobel laureate inaugurated the first Yunus Social Business Center of the University of Bologna. The center will be dedicated to research on social and economic models with a social vocation, publication and dissemination of study results, and collaboration with the international network of the Yunus Center Network.
In the early afternoon, Yunus inaugurated in Bologna the counter of the Grameen Foundation Italia for microcredit and self-entrepreneurship. The initiative consists of a revolving fund that finances, with a zero-interest loan, the start-up of small entrepreneurial businesses by young NEETs. Afterwards, Yunus met the representatives of the UniCredit Group, to seal the collaboration agreement between the bank and Grameen Foundation Italia, to start together a support program for micro-enterprises. The agreement is part of the Social Impact Banking initiative, a program that represents UniCredit’s commitment to identifying, financing and promoting initiatives with a positive social impact.
Professor Yunus has the merit of having supported millions of families in the fight against poverty, through the work of the Grameen Bank and the credit instruments he devised. Introduced by the Dean Max Bergami and Professor Giuseppe Torluccio, at Bologna Business School Muhammad Yunus has been welcomed by an audience of over 250 people. During his speech Yunus explained the genesis of his idea and the way in which the small loans given to the ‘last’ were able to generate an important collective development in one of the poorest countries of the planet, Bangladesh. From the birthplace of Yunus, the microcredit system has than spread to over 100 countries today, many of them from the so-called first world. The system conceived by the Nobel Prize was not only implemented by individual states, but also and above all by financial institutions that today propose effective programs to support individuals and micro-enterprises.
“It was not the inspiration that pushed me to do what I did, but the frustration. At a certain point I felt that teaching elegant economic models in the classroom made no sense if in the meantime people in the street were dying of hunger,” said the Professor, starting from his beginnings and the difficult condition of his country in the years when he began to imagine the system of loans that today bears his name.
“I prefer microcredit to charity for two reasons,” said Muhammad Yunus from the stage of the Aula Magna in Villa Guastavillani. “If you never get back the money you gave, you can help a limited number of people. And if you do not ask people to take action, to commit themselves to create a better future themselves, you have not really done anything. “
During his Master Lecture, Yunus has long debated on the theme of female emancipation. “The Grameen Bank has learned over time that the money lent to women creates much more value for the family and the community when men benefit from it. Today, 97% of our loans go to women, but it was not easy to involve them. At the beginning, they did not feel worthy and capable of handling money.” In a country, unfortunately still one of many, where the birth of a girl is seen in itself as bad luck, women immediately learn to make themselves almost invisible. “When a woman says she can not handle money, it is not she who speaks, but History. We try to eradicate these bad cultural roots by giving women the opportunity to be autonomous and to demonstrate their abilities and their value within society.”
Today, Grameen Bank has over 9 million people among its clients. “I simply tried to solve a problem with business tools.” concluded Yunus. “Poverty is like a bonsai plant. If you take a seed and you put it in a small pot, it will only grow to a certain extent. If you put it directly into the ground, without giving any boundaries, its roots will expand everywhere without limits. “
The event has been organized in collaboration with: