ON SELFLESSNESS, MUHAMMAD YUNUS
Father of Microlending: Founder, Grameen Bank; Winner, Nobel Peace Prize

Capitalism has been interpreted to be based on greed. But while human beings are selfish, they’re also selfless. Why is the latter part discarded from the interpretation? We’re increasingly seeing social businesses, or nondividend businesses, whose entire objective is to solve problems rather than make money, being born in many parts of the world. In social businesses, profits are recycled inside the company itself to continue work on a problem. Investors get to recoup their money but nothing more, other than the enjoyment of what they’ve done. Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a super-happiness.
An example: We’ve started Grameen Shakti, or “Grameen Energy,” to bring electricity to rural Bangladesh. We tell people, “Whatever money you spend on kerosene every month, give that money to us, and we’ll give you electricity.” And we use their money to finance their solar home system — and after three years, they get to keep it without any other payments. We’ve created
2 million solar-powered rural homes, the world’s largest off-grid system, and customers can’t believe it?they can now have television and charge mobile phones. It’s so successful, many competitors have sprung up?which we welcome, because we are a social business, and those competitors help solve the problem.

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