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Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,022 ratings  ·  296 reviews
In the last two decades, free markets have swept the globe, bringing with them enormous potential for positive change. But traditional capitalism cannot solve problems like inequality and poverty, because it is hampered by a narrow view of human nature in which people are one-dimensional beings concerned only with profit. In fact, human beings have many other drives and pa ...more
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by PublicAffairs (first published 1999)
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Eve Lyons
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Yunus is an inspiring man. I know nothing about economics yet I was able to understand this book, and it has helped me clarify for myself what kind of business I would like to run someday - a social business.

Basically, it presents a new model for social services - building organizations that do good work without relying on grants that may or may not be there from year to year, and which have as their chief goal to become self-sustaining. Their goal is to make money, but not maxi
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very inspiring book. Dr Yunus, the inventor of the concept of Grameen Banking (Micro-banking), and the Grameen bank won Nobel peace prize in 2006.
In this book, Dr Yunus has elaborated on the idea of Grameen bank and several other projects he and his team have started to uplift the poor. It is amazing how he identified the true needs of the poor and had confidence in them as people and did what he did. He thinks through every concept or problem very thoroughly and goes into the roots o
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it
If there were more people like Muhammad Yunus, then maybe his goal of stamping out poverty by 2050 will be achieved — hell, maybe he’ll be able to get Bangladesh there all on his own at the rate that he’s going.

In “Creating A World Without Poverty,”, Yunus talks about social businesses and the future of capitalism.

In this book, he talks about how, as Grameen Bank became more and more deeply rooted in the social conditions of the poor in Bangladesh, its mandate evolved and broadened as Yunus and
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you have ever wondered about the ability of third world countries to help their citizens move out of poverty, this book is for you! Yunus is an inspiring man who started Grameen Bank in the eighties, a forerunner of many of the microlending institutions that now exist (Kiva being the most famous one in American philanthropy circles). The premise of this book: that everyone in the world in poverty can move themselves out of poverty through the model of microlending and social enterprise is tru ...more
Jarkko Laine
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
The question after reading this book is not whether the book was good or not but what do I want to do about the challenge it sets.

Someone here commented that the final chapter about putting poverty to museums was naive and unrealistic. While that may be true, the image of my grandchildren going to such a museum and wondering why on earth did our parents allow poverty to last so long touched me deeply. I can't help but feel that there is a whole lot of truth in this idea. It is unethical of us t
Rebecca Chang
Jul 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Muhammad Yunus and his work are really amazing. Reading about the different Grameen businesses really overwhelmed me and made me wonder where on earth do I begin to start to achieve something even remotely close to that??! But it is inspiring and really makes you wanna stop sitting around and do something!

The book is rather academic though, like a thesis, so I had to skim through some parts which were overly informational/ argumentative. I didn't really need persuading about the benefit of soci
Apryl Anderson
I read this in the spirit of celebration for what's already been done, and with brave hope for the future...but it didn't give me the answers I really wanted. I want to defeat the spirit of poverty that permeates every level of society. Poverty of wealth is a symptom of the far greater disease. Yunus is catalyst to healing, but this goes far deeper and into the oppression that leads to death. Social business is a powerful component of the cure, but how does every individual recognize and accept ...more
Atul Sabnis
Without doubt, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism is an inspiring book.

I did not have a specific expectation of the book, when I started it - having known about the Grameen initiative and its activities. I started reading this book as a part of a course that I am doing (required reading). In reading the book, however, many ideas, thoughts and guiding philosophies came to the fore. It is quite revealing about how the idea of micro-credit has worked, the
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This was very interesting. Yunus brings forth the idea of running a sustainable business for the express benefit of society, rather than shareholders. The main principle of the book is that, instead of running a business as a profit-maximizing business, a business could be run (he doesn't go as far as to say that all businesses _should_ be run this way, which is probably a smart move) as a social-benefit-maximizing business. Investors would get no dividends or return on their money, they would j ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus has become my hero & a role model now. He rightly proved in reality that social business could indeed exploit capitalism to help create better lives of poor.

A prologue of good handshake, Yunus starts with free-market economics, globalization and economic boom in countries, then makes a deep dive that neoliberalism in fact creates better upper half leaving the rest in sheer poverty, then questions whether govt is the answer for reformation or is it NGOs or multilater
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Very inspiring! Makes me want change the world and fix the problems around me. Muhammad Yunus is a good example of doing something about a problem and not a small one either. As a university professor teaching economics in Bangladesh surrounded by poverty he decides to do something. He starts a bank to help those in poverty get out from the moneylenders' control. Yunus is passionate about the mission to end poverty globally and has a lot of interesting ideas. Many of them have worked ...more
Mina Villalobos
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
The book is full of great and inspiring ideas and it's helped me structure what I want to do -just having a name to call it, a social business, actually helps a lot. The anecdotal stuff is great and the suggestions as to what to do to start getting rid of poverty in your town/city/country at all excellent and very moving and empowering. My only complain about this book might be that at some point it just starts going the same things over and over again, so the third quarter of the book was rathe ...more
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book has several 5 star ideas, but ultimately is too long in it's prose. Dr. Yunus , Nobel Prize winner, describes his concept of a "Social Business" in this book. A social business operates exactly as a for profit entity, but has social goals rather than a goal of maximizing profit. To facilitate this all investors agree to receive only their original capital back after which the business pays no further dividends and reinvests all its' profits into it's social goals. I find this an intrig ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
We met Muhammad Yunus when he visited the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. You can listen to him talk about "Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism" here:

About this podcast:
Muhammad Yunus, a native of Bangladesh, was educated at Dhaka University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University, and in 1972 he became head of the economics department at Chittagong University. He is
Ime'... Imelda
The reason why I’d reading this book was actually to learn about the microcredit itself; the mechanism, how it works and others related. Well, I do learn a little bit about the microcredit, but I learned more about poverty and how private sectors could actually contribute to the poverty itself.

I learned a little bit about social business which I actually think that it is a great idea, yet I’m quite pessimistic whether such concept can be applied to all companies in the world. They would probably
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Social business is a powerful idea: a business whose primary goal is a particular social good, and whose investors and shareholders agree up front that no one will take any profit out of the business. Any profit that a social business makes is reinvested into the organization itself to further its social goals.

By removing the profit motivator, Muhammad Yunus believes that poverty and other societal ills can be addressed through this form of social capitalism.

As a book, I should just warn you th
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is one of those your eyes would pass over quickly in a bookstore while your mind also dismisses it as a dreamer's fantasy. But if you know anything about the author, Muhammad Yunus, you might know that he and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, not (just) for his writing but for the impact he has had on the lives of poor people in his Bangladesh and in other places in the world, primarily through his concept and implementation of micro lending, micro credit. This is the ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you wanted to test an idea that would help poor people rise out of poverty, Bangladesh would be the perfect place to start. That is what Muhammed Yunus did with his concept of social business. A social business is a business whose sole purpose is to alleviate the suffering and deprivation of poor people. It operates on basic business principles but does not have the purpose of returning value to shareholders, but rather addressing the needs of the poor. It is different than a socially respons ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
The idea was good. Instead of a corperation with the intent of making a profit, make a corporation with the intent of doing good and being self-sufficient. Both would still compete in the same markets for the money of the users, but instead of reporting to share holders who care only about "the bottom line," these shareholders would also be invested in the idea of providing clean water, bringing people out of poverty, etc.

The book though, was horrible. Maybe its how all business books are writte
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you have read "Bank to the Poor" there are parts of this you can skim/skip towards the beginning where he talks about the founding of Grameen Bank. I find his idea of social business (and his definition of it) interesting, and the idea of a wish list for social change interesting too.

Sometimes in the day-to-day grind of what you are doing at work, you sometimes lose sight of what the work is supposed to be getting you. I think you lose opportunities that way. Its important to keep your eye o
Jul 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-nonfiction
Read this actually a few months ago, but was reminded of it from a tweet this morning. The book is solid. A good idea, well-described, in language a non-economist can understand. Yunus is looking to bridge the innovation and efficiency of for-profit business with the social-improvement mission of the non-profit sector. I say: It's about freaking time!! No, business models can't solve everything (but you can expect Yunus to think so as a Nobel Winning Ecnomist and founder of the Grameen Bank), bu ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
I kinda blew through this one and then called it "done."

I was mostly interested in a non-Christian's motivations for helping the poor. This book is mostly about the "how" not the "why" and focuses on Yunus' Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning work with social-business and micro-finance, which is, of course, highly commendable. I did not find a satisfactory answer to the question of why business should be called upon to be socially conscious. From either a Christian standpoint or a secular one. Also, I'm
Had he a time machine, Muhammad Yunus could have prevented the death of over a billion people by counseling Karl Marx on Capitalism's power to truly transform the world, eliminate poverty, and raise people by their own bootstraps out of despair and into self reliance.

Yunus's vision, followed completely, would do just that. I believe this gentleman from Bangladesh could be one of the most important figures of the 21st century, whose ideas could have deep impact on even the 22nd century, and beyon
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was incredibly enlightened by this book. I have long been a supporter of those with lesser means - but I learned so much about the groundbreaking work that has occurred in Bangladesh over the past 30+ years to lift millions out of poverty. So many "social businesses" have emerged from his leadership and work, to empower the poor.
Professor Yunus is clearly a well-educated and articulate man -- his word choice and powerfully influential arguments really struck me.
There are so many good, PROVEN
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Robert by: Beili Li
This book has some really great ideas. He talks about Social Business from the aspect of helping the poor, but I felt it should have been extended into the environment. He does mention the environment, but does not talk as extensive as poverty. I understand that his specialty is poverty not environmental issues, but he obviously is concerned with the earth as a whole and working to make the world better for future generations. Anyone who is concerned with social issues should read this book, whi ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. I saw one less than stellar review and she sounded like a jaded b*tch who doesn't see the potential society has for progress beyond its own selfish means. Even if Yunus' hopes are far reaching, I don't think they are impossible when you see everything he's done. And with the people he helps, they will continue to spread this hope for a world without poverty and one with peace.... at this rate, with the economy tanking, we may all need his expertise one day and be vulnerable enoug ...more
Russ King
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book, not so much from how it is written but from the sheer strength and innovation of the ideas that the author has used to lift thousands of people out of poverty without using charity.

Yunus was told that you can't lend money to the poor as they won't pay it back. He proves that with the right support, the poor are better at handling debt and turning it to profit than the Western world.

The ideas in this book blew me away and my life has not been the same since. I ma now determined t
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mohammad Yusuf flushes out the idea of something he calls a "social business," which is a business that does not seek profit maximization. Instead it strives to maximize its progress towards a specific set of development goals in a self sustaining way that does not require donations. Grameen Bank, the micro-lending company he founded, is a perfect example. The results speak for themselves, and he and Grameen Bank received a Nobel Peace Prize for their impact on poverty.

This is an exciting and t
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best sections are the ones describing the history and formation of Grameen bank, and Grameen Danone.
The rest can best be summarized by the epilogue, which is the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that Yunus delivered in 2006. The descriptions of social business - its definition, examples of, ideas for, governance and support institutions surrounding - is interesting, but can get quite repetitive.

Yunus' passion and creativity when it comes to problems surrounding poverty, however, is clearly ev
Jul 28, 2011 added it
I think his ideas could work in the United States, if we had a properly functioning government, to replace Social Security, food stamps, and other social programs in place right now. Why are people so afraid of a self sustaining charity? If we actually wanted to make a difference we'd take a long hard look at the way money is spent by our government, what is actually bought with that money, and who actually benefits from that exchange. If we could only put politics aside and try to make the best ...more
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Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker and economist. He previously was a professor of economics and is famous for his successful application of microcredit--the extension of small loans given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Dr. Yunus is also the founder of Grameen Bank. In 2006, Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts t ...more

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19 likes · 4 comments
“Once poverty is gone, we'll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They'll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society - how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.” 170 likes
“To me, the poor are like Bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a six-inch deep flower pot, you get a perfect replica of the tallest tree, but it is only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted; only the soil-base you provided was inadequate.

Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong with their seeds. Only society never gave them a base to grow on.”
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