The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus visited Azerbaijan State University of Economics (UNEC) within his trip to Baku on June 21.
The influential public figure, so-called “father of Micro- Lending” and social business Muhammad Yunus has joined the international conference on “Social Business- the Road leading to Development” jointly organized by UNEC and International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF). Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Economic Reforms Natig Amirov, Education Minister Mikayil Jabbarov, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Idris Isayev, Chairman of the International Eurasia Press FundUmid Mirzayev, members of Parliament, university administrations and representatives from 9 countries attended the event.
UNEC’s Rector, Professor Adalat Muradov informed the participants about the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. He said that M.Yunus is the founder of “Grameen Bank” in Bangladesh and more than 50 companies. He was named “One of the greatest initiators of our time” by magazine “Fortune” for continuous updates and initiatives in 2012. Muhammad Yunus and the “Grameen Bank” were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Rector underlined the importance of M.Yunus’ research: “M.Yunus presented alternative approach to solving the existing problems in global economy. The proposal reduces the cost of capital, in addition to improving the social welfare of population; it draws the solution of problems created by the civilization in global economy to the fore as a priority”.
Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Economic Reforms Natig Amirov said that global economic processes, volatility of oil prices, release of the national currency and other political and economic processes had an impact to Azerbaijan, too: “However, as a result of measures taken there is stabilization in the currency market at the moment, manat maintains its fundamental value”. Saying, increasing the social welfare is the main line of Azerbaijan economy, N.Amirov noted that measures for the development of human potential shall be taken consistently in the country.
Education Minister Mikayil Jabbarov stressed that the transition to a middle income economy from a low- income economy has been made in Azerbaijan within a short period of time: “There is a human capital in the first plan. The education system has a special role in the formation of human capital. Substantial repair or construction of more than 70 percent of secondary schools in the country, as well as measures such as the expansion of state- funded study abroad is of great importance. Making a profit should not stand at the root of social business”. Emphasizing the role of higher education institutions in personnel training for the labor market, the Minister appreciated the development in terms of social business with new thinking approaches among the students positively: “The social business philosophy views the society as a whole harmonious concept”.
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus made a lecture on “Social Business- the Road leading to Development”. He said that he was treated as irascible when started operations in banking for his opinion: “We have radically changed the traditional banking principles starting operations in the banking sector. The more wealthy you are, the more attractive for the bank. But we started to serve to poor people. To become our customer you have to prove that you have nothing, you are poor. Traditional banks are usually operating with male customers. 97% of our 8.5 million customers are women. The bank has branches in 80 thousands of villages of Bangladesh”. M.Yunus also noted that the world’s financial system is established incorrect: “All the banks close their door of the women, especially poor women. This is illogical. To be poor is not the man’s fault. Banks somehow thank that poor customer gets sick and will die without paying for a bank debt. But we insure the customer’s health. We do not make a profit as a bank, do not pursue a benefit, but rather try to solve the problems of the people.
Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Idris Isayev noted in his speech on “The Role of self- employment measures in Poverty Reduction” that one of the main goals of social policy in Azerbaijan is ensuring transition to stable active labor programs from instable passive social protection measures for low- income families. Deputy Minister noted that the work done cause to increase social welfare indicators, as well as decrease of unemployment about 5 percent, poverty to 4.9 percent: “The implemented social policy encourages all stages of our society to create social business”.
The conference was followed with discussions. Afterwards, Rector A. Muradov presented M.Yunus a diploma of Honorary Doctor of UNEC.
The opening of Yunus Social Business Center (YSBC) established at UNEC for the first time in the region took place within the conference. A memorandum of understanding on cooperation was signed between UNEC, Yunus Center and IEPF. The development of mutual cooperation between the parties, recognition of Professor M.Ynus’ ideas in elimination of poverty and concept of social business are planned to be implemented in the document. It was noted that UNEC YSBC will arrange training trips of students and volunteers for the study of the program and methods to promote the social development of the poor from the primary sources with the aim to promote the idea of social business. At the same time UNEC YSBC will hold academic meetings, seminars, discussions and conduct researches to support the development of the idea of social business in Azerbaijan and region. Civil society organizations, microfinance institutions and business organizations will be involved in the successful organization of the YSBC’s activity. Along with creating social business design laboratories, the Center also will perform student exchange programs, academic debates, internship programs, as well as voluntary activities. Head of the Center will be selected among the UNEC teaching staff.
In the end, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus signed the book “The Banker to the Poor” interpreted into Azerbaijani for the participants at the YSBC.
Information about Muhammad Yunus:
Professor Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank led by were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. M.Yunus is in the 25th place in the list of “The most prestigious business people of the late 25 years” by the Wharton Business School. Muhammad Yunus has been ranked 12th in the list of “12 great entrepreneurs of our time” in March of 2012 for his constant search for innovation and entrepreneurial activity by magazine “Fortune”. The organization “AsizWeek” (Hong Kong) chose him as one of twenty genius Asians. Muhammad Yunus was elected as the world’s second most intelligent person in the list of “Top 100 intellectual persons” of open online voting conducted by the magazine “Prospect” of Great Britain and “Foreign Policy” of the US in 2008. M.Yunus was awarded 55 honorary degrees of the universities of 20 countries, including 112 awards of 26 countries. He is one of the seven persons who received the US President’s Medal of Freedom and US Congressional Gold Medal.
Information about Yunus Center:
Dhaka Yunus Center Bangladesh is the Social Business Center performing in the field of poverty reduction and sustainable development. The Center is established to promote M.Yunus’ philosophy based on social business and to share it.