AIT attends first annual Social Business Day

On Monday 28 June 2010, AIT Extension's Jonathan Shaw and Faiz Shah represented AIT at the first annual Social Business Day, held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka. The event was observed with celebrations around the world. Dr Shaw and Dr Shah were on mission in Bangladesh, and were representing AIT on behalf of President Said Irandoust and Yunus Center Director, Dr. Riaz Khan.

A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company with the primary target to reach a social objective. Competing with profit-maximizing companies, its success is solely measured on the social-return of the investment. Sustainable and independent from continuous funding, it is a powerful and innovative concept to create a lasting social impact.

The event was attended by representatives of a number of social businesses other enabled the AIT team to get a clearer understanding, including BASF Grameen, Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing, Grameen Danone Foods, and Grameen Intel, and other Grameen partners. Video messages were conveyed from around the world, including one from former USA President Bill Clinton. A book launch for Professor Yunus’s latest book, Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs, was held in the evening at the Dhaka Club.

Dr Shaw and Dr Shah later held discussions with Lamiya Morshed, the Executive Director of the Yunus Centre, to discuss the development of the Yunus Center at AIT, the only other Yunus Center outside Bangladesh. The Yunus Centre is the one-stop resource centre for all Grameen social business related activities both globally and in Bangladesh. It keeps the spirit of the global social business movement very high through various events, social media, publications, and websites. The Yunus Centre also helps forge lasting, productive relationships among all social business institutions around the world.  It was agreed that the Yunus Center at AIT needs to be closely aligned with the Yunus Centre‘s mission of promoting social business, and that efforts need to be focused on ensuring this alignment, with AIT’s technology and its location in Thailand being the added value of the Yunus Center at AIT.

Immediate follow up actions will be for the Yunus Center at AIT to facilitate an exposure visit to Bangladesh for Thai companies interested in establishing social businesses to experience the concept first hand, and to meet with Professor Yunus. We will also look for an appropriate date to invite Professor Yunus to AIT to meet with potential partners in Bangkok and to introduce the concept more fully to the AIT community and our partners.

(l-r) Corinne Bazina (Executive Director, Grameen Danone Foods, Jonathan Shaw (Director, AIT Extension), Professor Muhammad Yunus)

The AIT team greatly appreciated the opportunity to get a better understanding of the concept of social business, and the role that the Yunus Center at AIT can play in supporting the concept. Ms. Morshed informed Dr Shaw that she was greatly reassured by the discussions, and conveyed this positive message to  Professor Yunus.

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