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22 Ideas to Fix the World - Chapter 1

22 Ideas to Fix the World - Chapter 1

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Published by NYU Press
MUHAMMAD YUNUS, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for combating poverty in South Asia via his micro-credit system, in conversation with Piotr Dutkiewicz
MUHAMMAD YUNUS, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for combating poverty in South Asia via his micro-credit system, in conversation with Piotr Dutkiewicz

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Published by: NYU Press on Aug 16, 2013
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“All human beings have unlimited potential, unlimited capacity,unlimited creative energy” 
in conversation with Piotr Dutkiewicz
Muhammad Yunus is a Nobel Prize winner(
) for combating poverty via the micro-credit system that he developed in Bangla-desh and spread to other countries in Asia.He previously was a professor of economics,where he developed the concepts of micro-credit and micronance. These loans are givento entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for tradi-tional bank loans. Presently he is chancellor ofGlasgow Caledonian University.
uhammad Yunus is amous as an economist and a philanthro-pist, but he takes issue with both labels and with the way thatmainstream economics and philanthropy are practiced.* He sees pov-erty, an issue he has sought to tackle in his writing and through hisbusiness endeavors, as a systemic problem that robs individuals o theircapacity or sel-realization. He argues that only in a system that valuesmoney above all else and sees humans as atomized, selsh actors canills like poverty and unemployment be seen as natural or even desir-able. He argues that most economics excludes the possibility o humans
Photo by Spencer Platt/ iStockPhoto.
* All headnotes written by iotr utkiewicz.
Rethink the Nature of Humanity
being seless and seeking nonnancial gain rom business and, con- versely, that charitable work, by ignoring nancial gain, can lack sus-tainability or create dependency among its recipients. He proposesinstead a model o social business that uses the market system to deliversolutions to social ills. His is a political perspective that sees potential inthe poor, the disenranchised, and migrants and an economic approachthat ocuses on human selessness. Yunus’s eld-tested theories suggesta new way to think about emerging rom our current crises.PD: What is poverty?: We can approach poverty in many diferent ways. It can mean lack o opportunities, lack o income, lack o a uture, lack o a dream or auture. Tis is one way to look at it. Another way poverty can be consid-ered is as a denial o all human rights, in that a poor person lacks accessto what we see as human rights: right to ood, shelter, and so on. overty can be looked at as a situation where you leave creative human beingsin a total waste, in the sense that they are not being useul to society orthemselves. overty can be looked at as a blockage o the energy that allthese people have to contribute to society. Tis is related to a belie that Ihave that all human beings have unlimited potential, unlimited capacity,unlimited creative energy. Simply, some have the opportunity to unleashthat potential, be it a raction or all o it, and others are denied the chanceto even explore these capacities that exist within them. Te other thing Ishould mention is that poverty is not created by poor people. overty isnot in a person; it is something that is imposed on the person.PD: It’s an externality?: Yes, in the sense that it is not in the person, but is imposed by externalorces, which I see as the system as it prevails. Te system creates poverty.PD: overty is universal?
Muhammad Yunus
: As long as the system is universal, poverty is also universal.PD: Is poverty in Bangladesh the same as poverty in the United Statesor elsewhere?: Yes, everywhere. It is caused by the same process and the samesystem and the same aults in institutions, and the same aults in thebasic conceptual ramework in the economy. Tink o poor people as abonsai tree. You can take the best seed o the tallest, best tree, but youput it in a small ower pot and it will only grow so big. It cannot hopeto grow as big as it would in the orest. And you ask the question “Whatis wrong with this tree?” And you think that maybe the seed is at ault.But it’s not, as we picked the best seed. So what is it? Te real reason isthat we didn’t give it the soil in which to grow, so it can only grow in alimited way. So we have the tree we see in the orest, but only in a min-iature version. So I see poor people as bonsai people. Tere is nothingwrong with the seed; simply, society never gives them the space to grow.PD: Can we change part o the system through reorm strategies, or dowe need more radical changes or even a new system?: All o the above. It depends on what you want to achieve. For exam-ple, you can retain the system and reorm it a little here and there sothat some slight improvement takes place. So you have a little bonsai;you make its pot a bit bigger, and it will grow bigger, but it will stillnot grow to the potential o the seed. So I think you have to correctthe whole platorm, the whole pot, so that everyone has the same soilconditions.PD: Is this environment mainly rooted in economics, politics, or therelationship between economics and politics?: I am looking at the list o people you will be interviewing or thisbook, who ocus on the environment, ood security, capital markets,

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annafinn23 added this note
A must read!
1 thousand reads
Hubertus Fremerey added this note
The theses of Yunus are great in a certain context. But they are naive on three arguments : (1) Many societies FEAR the liberation of human potentialities, because it blows the social order of those societies. (2) Many people simply lack potential and are dull and lazy. (3) An agrarian societey is very different from a modern industrial society which has special requirements.
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