Last week, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary! For the first time in two years and two months of restricted travel due to COVID-19, YSB Co-Founder & Chairman Prof. Yunus was able to leave his home country of Bangladesh in order to join us in person.
We had the privilege of hearing from social business superheroes, including Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, former Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, YSB Co-Founder & CEO Saskia Burysten, Google Cloud International President Adaire Fox-Martin, Deevabits Green Energy CEO David Wanjau, Sero Co-Founders Paulo Andres Londono and Rodrigo Londono and others. Here are some of the highlights:
In her opening address, Saskia Bruysten shared 10 inspiring social business examples, and revealed that in the last 10 years, social businesses in the YSB portfolio have: served 17.8M customers with essential products and services; supported 1.3M incomes and averted 5M tons of carbon emissions.
Prof. Yunus held a speech and fireside chat with COO Corporate Innovation Daniel Nowack, in which he shared his vision of a world of three zeroes: zero poverty, zero unemployment and net-zero carbon emissions. He also shared his insights on topics including “putting poverty in a museum,” universal basic income, general artificial intelligence and making vaccines free of intellectual property rights. He also revealed what personally inspires him to continue his work on social business every single day. When you give a speech, he said, “you never know who is in the room listening to you.” He added that when he gave a speech twelve years ago at London School of Economics, Saskia was one of the people in the audience, which led her to co-found Yunus Social Business with Prof. Yunus and Sophie Eisenmann.
COO Corporate Innovation Monika Frech explored how the social-business movement has also affected global corporations, with insights from Prof. Yunus, Emmanuel Faber and Adaire Fox-Martin. With a room full of changemakers, Monika asked each of the panellists what we can all do to effect change. Prof. Yunus’ advice: “Just change it. That’s it! There are easy ways.” Adaire Fox-Martin shared, “When we’re looking at how we engage, it has to be inclusive, and it has to be in a way that’s sustainable in the core of your business - not just as a special project.” Finally, Emmanuel Faber called upon changemakers to define success not just in terms of money, adding, “The more you will have power, the less you will be able to exercise your leadership… So don’t wait! Do it now! Life is too short and this is too fun!”
YSB Head of Future Thinking Aarti Wig introduced our research work on the various ways that corporations can get involved in social business, our work on social intrapreneurship including case studies and our work on social procurement where corporations buy from social businesses. Read the research here: https://www.yunussb.com/corporate-innovation/research
Taking the perspective of social businesses, YSB COO Funds Tom Kocsis was joined by YSB Colombia Country Director Gaia De Dominicis, Kenya Country Director Susan Ngalawa, Sero Co-Founders Rodrigo Londono and Paulo Andres Londono and Deevabits Green Energy Co-Founder and CEO David Wanjau. David Wanjau shared his vision for Deevabits Green Energy to scale its business and social impact, being one of many social businesses to solve problems in a sustainable and scalable way, and thus contributing to the bigger picture of the social-business movement. Rodrigo and Paulo Andres Londono emphasised that there is still so much to be done, and that solutions should be taken and, where possible, repurposed for different geographies. Susan Ngalawa highlighted the need for a holistic, ecosystem approach to supporting social businesses, including investment-readiness programmes and non-financial growth support. Gaia De Dominicis emphasised the importance of the virtuous cycle between social businesses and corporations, working on social innovation to spin the social-business flywheel faster.
Finally, Saskia Bruysten shared that our work at YSB is only possible through our partnerships, and announced some of the exciting next-decade projects we are undertaking with key partners, many of whom joined her on stage: the Take A Stake initiative funding social businesses in the WASH and waste sectors, powered by YSB and WASTE Foundation and supported by IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Sida; our new fund in food and agriculture; the new YSB impact-investing service, pioneered by Flixbus Co-Founder Panya Putsathit; our partnership with Audi, SAP and Zurich for whom we will be helping to find social businesses that they can procure goods and services from. Our collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship has also been - and continues to be - a key strategic partnership for YSB.
Do you know an #UnusualPioneer? Nominate a corporate social intrapreneur for a scholarship!
Nominate a corporate social intrapreneur for a scholarship for the Unusual Pioneers platform until Feb 28th. The Unusual Pioneers is a joint initiative by Yunus Social Business, Porticus, and Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, sister organisation of the World Economic Forum.