Mumbai, June 25, 2020: The current COVID-19 situation proved that economists have failed, and focus on micro-entrepreneurs is the way forward; job seekers are like soldiers who fight the wars on behalf of their owners, said Prof Muhammad Yunus at the webinar organised by the Mumbai Chapter of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO). In an interactive session, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Founder – Grameen Bank, spoke on different issues like the importance of social business, failure of capitalism, the devastation of poor people by the pandemic and way forward.
Speaking on the current COVID-19 situation, Prof Muhammad Yunus said, “This is a great opportunity to reflect. Basically, the whole world was behind closed doors for more than 90 days. Poor people have struggled a lot and most people have lost their jobs. Corona has made them visible right upfront and has demonstrated how capitalism and economics have failed. Now, Corona has given us an opportunity to select a new path. There has also been less environmental degradation as most of us were at home and not going to offices.”
He further added, “Economics only teach us to pursue self-interest as we take care of ourselves, but common collective interests are the way forward and social business is the right approach. We created a wrong world; it sucked up wealth from the bottom of the pyramid and sent it up for a select few.”
Talking about Grameen Bank, Prof Yunus said, “The informal sector is long ignored; I call them micro-entrepreneurs, and in a country like India, it is around 80 per cent of the total workforce, but they are not in the mainstream and there are no institutions to take care of them. Countries like India and Bangladesh need strong Micro Credit institutions, which lend money to this large workforce, as no bank of Capital Economy gives them money. This is what Grameen Bank is all about. 97 per cent of our borrowers are women and we strongly believe in empowering them. Today, Grameen Bank loans out to so many. We lend out more than US$ 3 billion last year, and our performance is amazing, with repayment of about 99 per cent.”
Prof Yunus said: “Capitalism is based on self-interest and not common collective interests. Economics has only taught us to create organisations for profit. We teach young children in school and home that you can either be a job seeker but not enough focus on how to be a good human. The point is: what you want to do in your life? The moment you have your job, you sacrifice your identity. Thus, entrepreneurship is a way forward to grow an economy. Corona has given us the opportunity to think. Do we really want to go back to the earlier normal? It has proven that we need to find a new destination.”
Giving a background to this webinar, FLO Mumbai Chapter Chair, Maloo Natarajan said, “The idea behind this multi-award-winning concept of Micro Credit is that everyone is a national entrepreneur. The first tipping point was in 2008 when the financial crisis answered one of his questions about the financial credibility of the poor versus the rich. The second tipping point is the current COVID-19 situation which has proved that entrepreneurship is the way forward.”
She further added, “This current natural cause is a blessing in some ways to help us reboot, reimagine and reform, FLO Mumbai vision this year is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals with special emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Environment. The national theme is sustainable livelihood, and we are looking at it across the urban, semi-urban and rural space. We strongly believe that entrepreneurship is the way forward.”