Daily Archives: July 11, 2008

Innovative models for Social Change

Last year I had written a piece for a conference blog with the title “Innovative models for Social Change“. I think the theme and topic is still relevant and I have reproduced it below.

Next week, I will be moderating a panel that will be addressing this theme at the 50th Anniversary celebrations for my alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IITB for short) in New York. The panel is titled “The New Philanthropy – New models for Social Impact“. I am fortunate to have several of the innovative organizations that I mention in the post to be a part of my panel. The panel consists of:

It promises to be an engaging discussion and one, I hope, that will answer some of the questions raised in my post from last year. Continue reading

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Major Indian political parties quote Social Entrepreneurial thinkers

Mainstream politics in India is picking up on themes of key social entrepreneurial thinkers as the two major parties prepare for elections.

In an interesting observation on the Acumen Fund Blog the blogger, Uma Hemachandran, points out that with the unexpected upset of the BJP in the last elections, in part due to inadequate attention to those struggling at the bottom, the party is now taking a page, quite literally, out of CK Prahalad’s “Bottom of the Pyramid“.

She references a speech by BJP’s LK Advani, in June 2008 where he says, “In this context, I must say that I am highly impressed by C.K. Prahlad’s theory about “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”. I agree with his approach to poverty alleviation, which states that “if we stop seeing the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunities will open up.”

Meanwhile the Congress party realizing how it got into power has also been quoting populist thinkers. When presenting the 2007-2008 budget last year, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram quoted Dr. Yunus to justify their actions by saying, “As Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate, said, “Faster growth rate is essential for faster reduction in poverty. There is no other trick to it.”

Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

Earlier this year, Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus was the invited guest speaker at MIT’s 142nd commencement. In his prepared remarks to the students he outlined how he started microcredit thirty plus years ago from a simple desire to free villagers near his university in Chittagong from the penalizing interest that they paid to moneylenders.

Today his organization, Grameen Bank, has grown to cover 7.5 million borrowers in Bangladesh, 97 percent of them women. From this beginning he has expanded to provide services and products in a number of areas ranging from health insurance, to affordable cell phone service with Grameen Phone to renewable energy solutions through Grameen Shakti.

Drawing from his successes with these businesses, Prof. Yunus has refined an overarching social business philosophy that he recently published in his latest book “Creating a World Without Poverty – Social Business and the Future of Capitalism“. Continue reading