“Going Back to That World Is Equal to Committing Suicide.” - Professor Muhammad Yunus on the Opportunity Presented by COVID-19

“Going Back to That World Is Equal to Committing Suicide.” - Professor Muhammad Yunus on the Opportu

May 20, 2020

What must be done now, during the COVID-19 crisis, to avoid returning to assured humanitarian and ecological disaster? In our special panel on Friday, Professor Muhammad Yunus made one thing clear: There is no going back.

NO STRANGER TO CRISIS

Professor Muhammad Yunus is no stranger to crisis. He started using business methods to solve human problems in 1976, in the wake of the 1974 Bangladesh famine.  At this time, Professor Yunus’s work on microcredit for low-income Bangladeshi women led to thousands being able to leave extreme poverty behind them.  It was a seed of hope that sprung from crisis and which proved to be an extremely successful financial model. In 2006, his work was rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, Professor Yunus has taken the opportunity to speak out on the actions needed right now to harness this crisis as an opportunity.

WATCH PROFESSOR YUNUS’ TALK:

WHAT DID PROFESSOR YUNUS DISCUSS?

In the special panel, hosted by Yunus Social Business’ Brazilian arm, Professor Yunus discussed:

  • The huge opportunity presented by the COVID-19 crisis
  • Why a return to “businesss as usual” would be suicide
  • The solution: Social Business

He also shared his thoughts on a number of highly relevant topics to our current situation, including:

  • Open source COVID-19 vaccine
  • Lives vs. livelihoods debate
  • Universal Basic Income in times of Corona crisis

GOING BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL IS “EQUAL TO COMMITTING SUICIDE”

Speaking of the situation pre-crisis, Professor Yunus said, “We came very close [to a] disaster point. We are just about to jump from the cliff and finish it off. Luckily, Coronavirus stopped us from that jump.”

He listed the climate crisis and extreme wealth concentration as examples, and called on viewers of the special panel to consider the prospect of returning to this situation: “So, if the virus ends somehow, are we going back to that level, to finish the jump? Is this the solution that we are proposing?”

Professor Yunus concluded: “Going back to that world is equal to committing suicide. Are we going to commit suicide? That's the question we have to ask, and answer. And my answer is very clear: No. No. No. We are not going to go back and finish our suicide.”

“IF YOU MISS IT, YOU’LL NEVER GET IT BACK”

Asked what advice he would give to a younger version of himself now, he said simply: “This is your chance. If you miss it, you’ll never get it back again. If you miss it, your life is in real danger.” He added, “We belong to the older generation. We will somehow squeeze through. But you cannot squeeze through.”

YUNUS SOCIAL BUSINESS’ POST-COVID VISION

Yunus Social Business was co-founded by Professor Muhammad Yunus along with Saskia Bruysten with one mission: To harness the power of business to overcome poverty. In the current crisis, this mission has become more relevant than ever. At Yunus Social Business, we do not believe in returning to “business as usual,” because business as usual was not working.

This is why we see it as vital to support social businesses during these times, in order to ensure that they are still there at the end of the crisis. A post-COVID world should be one measured on social impact, and we need social businesses to help continue to build that world. That’s why we have come together with the World Economic Forum along with 46 other organisations in order to provide financial and business support to social businesses during this period. Find out more about our COVID response.

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