Yunus Expands Social Business in Uganda

Dr Yunus picture NGO News Report :: Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has just concluded his four day visit to Uganda where he was received by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at the Presidential Palace, met Vice President Ssekandi, attended high level meetings with government representatives and social and business leaders of Uganda, and addressed the National Conference on Social Business in Uganda.

Prior to visiting Uganda Professor Yunus visited Washington to be the Chief Guest at the 35th Anniversary Celebration of RESULTS International The event was attended by congressmen, senators, policy makers, NGO activists and academics.

On 24 July Professor Yunus delivered a public lecture at the World Bank on social business and microcredit for the end of poverty, at Preston Auditorium in World Bank Group Headquarter. In the public lecture Professor Yunus told a packed audience that “present civilization that we created is on an irresistible path of self-destruction. Before it destroys itself we have the opportunity to lay the foundation of a new civilization which will be progressive and sustainable.” The over-flown audience included World Bank senior officials, dignitaries and participants from a diverse background.

During his stay in DC, Professor Yunus was invited to meet with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Joseph Crowley, all of whom are long term supporters of Grameen’s anti-poverty efforts led by Professor Yunus.

Professor Yunus left from DC to Uganda on 26 July to visit the social business programs initiated by Yunus Social Business, the global implementing arm of Professor Yunus’ social business program. Yunus Social business has started its work in through its office Uganda since 2013.

Professor Yunus was received by President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 29 July. He had a one hour meeting with the President who was joined by Finance Minister, Agriculture Minister, and the State minister of ICT. Ugandan President is a great admirer of Professor Yunus and his microcredit and other innovative initiatives since 1997 when he attended the first Microcredit Summit in Washington DC. Professor Yunus briefed on all the social business initiatives already undertaken by his organization in Uganda. President was particularly interested in a new social business software outsourcing company as a joint venture with a giant European company. This will create thousands of IT jobs for unemployed youth of Uganda, particularly young women. Professor Yunus invited the President to inaugurate the company when it rolls out its business next year. President immediately accepted it but made a condition that Professor must be present with him at the launch. President wanted to understand in how social business can help youth unemployment, agriculture and forestry. Professor Yunus gave examples of such social businesses undertaken with his initiative in other countries.

Professor Yunus called on the Vice President of Uganda, Edward Ssekandi at his office. He organized a meeting of the board of directors of Green Efforts Foundation founded by him for developing Green initiatives, with him as the chair. The Vice president and the Board of the Foundation wanted advice from Professor Yunus on building social businesses to achieve the goals of the Foundation. The Vice-President then came to the National Social Business Conference of Uganda organized by Yunus Social Business Uganda, held in an international hotel to inaugurate the conference along with Professor Yunus. In his inaugural speech the Vice-President announced that the government of Uganda is very happy to put the seal approval to all social business initiatives in Uganda and will support them in all possible ways. Professor Yunus was the chief guest of the National Social Business Conference of Uganda attended by Government officials, country heads of various UN organizations, ambassadors, university professors, various foundations, NGOs, corporate bodies, local media as well as international and local development agencies.

Professor Yunus also visited several social businesses which are partnering with Yunus Social Business. These enterprises are working in health, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, such as Green Bio Energy which produce Clean cook stoves & solar lamps to low-income households to reduce emissions and fight deforestation, Impact Water supplying Safe and Healthy Drinking Water for Schools, Hospitals, and families through high performance water purification systems and Markmat Enterprises, an enterprise that works to equip local farmers with best farming practices to increase yield and quality of their crops.

Professor Yunus addressed a gathering of over 300 university students specially assembled organized by five leading universities in Kampala.

During his visit Professor Yunus had separate meetings with African Development Bank, US Ambassador, USAID, and UNHCR, to discuss issues related to poverty alleviation, sustainable development and social business. He signed an MOU with UNHCR to undertake joint venture social businesses in the Ugandan refugee camps.

Founded by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Saskia Bruysten, and Sophie Eisenmann, Yunus Social Business (YSB) promotes and finances social businesses around the world. YSB is active in seven countries, including Uganda where local teams coach, and mentor entrepreneurs, subsequently providing financing and post-investment support to the most promising ones. YSB has deployed over $7 million in 28 social businesses, which have already impacted over 200,000 beneficiaries.

Professor Yunus left Uganda on July 30 after attending a reception given by Bangladeshi community in Uganda.

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