There Would Be No Need For Welfare If Everyone Set Up Own Business, Nobel Prize Winner Claims

Ian Wright's picture

A NOBEL Peace Prize winner and banker to the poor has made the bold claim that poverty, unemployment and welfare could soon seem so archaic, they will be only referred to in museums.

Speaking at the London School of Economics in May, Muhammad Yunus told a packed theatre the world's huge unemployment problem could be solved if instead of looking for work, we gave work to others.

He called for an end to ‘profit-maximizing money-making robots' and for a focus on creating social businesses which help the world's poor.

He suggested if each person in the LSE audience started a social business that employed five other people, we could be well under way to solving poverty and unemployment in the UK, which would in turn mean no more need for welfare.

He said: "Capitalism is about options, so shouldn't people have the option to start a social business or a profit maximizing business or both? You have to use your creative power to make it happen. Nothing is beyond the capacity of human beings."

"Every time I see a problem I think, how do I create a business to solve the problem?"

And it seems he practises what he preaches, besides starting Grameen Bank, which now has 8.5 million customers in Bangladesh and 12,000 in New York City, he has also founded a staggering 60 other social businesses to help the world's poor.

These include partnerships with some of the world's largest companies including Danone, Adidas, and BASF.

In a thinly veiled jab at the audience of mostly privileged students, Mr Yunus told the story of a group of graduates who had a difficult time finding work. They asked him why they had bothered to study if there weren't any jobs available. He challenged them to give jobs not ask for jobs.

He added: "If you change the mindset of enough people around the world, it could mean the end poverty, unemployment and the need for welfare globally."

He also discussed philanthropy admitting while he believes in it in principle; it's not the best way to help the poor, because the money can only be used once.

He said social businesses will always be the better option because they reinvest money, meaning it can help people over and over again.

He also admitted while there are many capitalistic models that do work, including China's massive economic growth, it is likely they will never help the poorest.

Other topics he discussed included:

Wages: He proposed an international minimum wage for workers in the garment industry and transparency index to name and shame companies that employed people in substandard conditions.

The media: It should play a bigger role in promoting social business. Using the example of science fiction's role in helping humans land on the moon, and creating the modern interconnected world, he called for social fiction to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.

The nature of unemployment: Yunus claimed it was a human invention and, "You don't think about animals as being unemployed. And if you do then it's probably owned by a human."

Bankers: "If I'm a banker to the poor then the other banker is a banker to the rich. He's the funny one"

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