The Great Debate UK
- John Grant is brand and sustainability expert at Abundancy Partners and author of “Co-Opportunity“. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Speculative investment is something like a wobbly pin in the grenade of economics. It contributes to a lack of resilience because it pulls out every time there is a downturn. It also potentially creates a gap between the goals and ethos of a company and its ownership and financial obligations. So it’s encouraging that other formats are emerging than the company-as-a-vehicle-for-investor-shareholder returns. What I’m going to suggest is that in future most ventures could be social ventures.
As a new unit of capitalism, the success of social ventures is a highly significant development. The Grameen Bank’s founder, Mohammed Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of a new way of being a business, which could literally have the potential to save humanity. Grameen Bank, which started in the village of Jobra in 1976, is owned by the community. There are by now also 18 other Grameen businesses, all independent social ventures designed to give employment opportunities and/or services to the poorest people.
Microcredit, the system of banking espoused by Grameen, alleviates poverty by giving small (micro) loans to individuals and small firms to invest in equipment or materials through which they can earn a living. It equips people rather than just making them dependent on aid. The astonishing thing (compared to conventional banking) is that these are loans without collateral. They are therefore in theory the riskiest sorts of loans going – a sub-sub prime, existing in harsh and volatile economies. Yet with microcredit there are astonishing high repayment rates – 99 percent is common.
- Sheetal Mehta is CEO and founder of not for profit organization Shanti Microfinance. The opinions expressed are her own. You can follow her on Twitter. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–
The women of the world still get the rawest deal. Throughout history, in places where life is tough for everyone, women still on average work for longer hours and take on the burden of the household chores. In its Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Programme reported that 70 percent of the people living on less than $1 dollar (65 pence) per day are women.
- Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke is the founder of Women’s Worldwide Web – an online charitable organisation designed to help empower women with access to micro-finance loans, education, mentoring and networking. She has an MBA from ESCP Europe Business School and is a Board Director of Enfants d’Asie. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in. -
As an educated European woman enjoying a fulfilling career, along with the majority of my female and male peers, the “angel in the house” curse and the “feminine mystique” malaise seem, in many ways, to have faded into history.