Social Business and Environment

Our environment is in serious crisis. As sea level continues to rise due to global warming, Bangladesh faces an existential threat. Social businesses must be engaged along with the existing models that are in place to save our environment. In doing so, not only will we be able to save our environment, we will be able to enrich it. But we must act now. We must act to create a livable, survivable, and safe environment. And we have a potent weapon at our disposal to combat the crisis – social business.

Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus continues to stress on the potential benefits of social business to remove many social ills that we face today. He also knows that the younger generation has the talent, capabilities, and technological know-how to effectively change the world. “We must use young people to harness the power of social business,” says Dr. Yunus.

To provide clean water, Bangladesh has undertaken world’s first social business initiatives. A new partnership called Grameen – Veolia Water Ltd was created in 2008 to provide clean water for the poor in Bangladesh. Grameen – Violia Water Ltd further partnered with Grameen Healthcare Services and Violia Water AMI Ltd to distribute purified water to one lakh people in Bangladesh by 2012. The world today faces grim environment problems. The elimination of forest, global warming, loss of animal lives, and carbon pollution continue to threaten our existence. Bangladesh faces the effect of this perilous environmental pollution and threats.

Bangladesh must undertake social business initiatives extensively throughout the country. Poor people are by far the largest victims of environmental pollution. We must protect them. To do that, business communities must come forward and adopt social business. Large businesses have the financial resources to undertake social business initiatives more easily than the smaller businesses. They can enter the social business without any significant market barrier in Bangladesh. Through social business, they will earn profits and, most importantly, empower lives. Not all small businesses have the necessary economy of scale to enter into a social business. But we cannot ignore them. All businesses in Bangladesh must consider undertaking social business initiatives.

One of Grameen’s initiatives, Grameen Shakti, has undertaken to provide solar energy as an alternative to electricity. To date, Grameen Shakti has provided solar panels to 70,000 households. Initiatives like this will create an ecological balance. Other social business projects like Grameen Bank Biogas is providing portable low-cost and low-maintenance cooking stoves for the poor people in Bangladesh.

Social business has the ability and the tools needed to address the current environmental crises and human conditions. Because the current economic worldview is capitalistic and business-driven, the improvements should first be made within that system and not with attempts to completely reverse or debunk it. “When a large number of people are vying to do the best possible job of developing and refining an idea- and when the flow of money toward them and their company depends on the outcome of the competition- the overall level of everyone’s performance rises dramatically”(Yunus 27). This is an undeniable benefit of capitalism- as compared to a socialist ideology where it has been generally accepted that motivation is not created. “Competition (and the benefits of it) will factor in since social business will compete with profit-driven business and other social businesses (Yunus 26). The utilization of competition will further the company’s social purpose, whether it be developing renewable energy systems and selling them at reasonable prices to rural communities that otherwise can’t afford access to energy, or recycling garbage, sewage, and other waste products that would otherwise generate pollution in poor or politically powerless neighborhoods (Yunus 23).

The negative impact of single-track capitalism is visible on our everyday lives — among global corporations that locate factories in the world’s poorest countries, where cheap labor (including children) can be freely exploited to increase profits; among companies that pollute the air, water and soil to save money on equipment and processes that protect the environment; in deceptive marketing and advertising campaigns that promote harmful or unnecessary products (Yunus 5).

Social business makes sense because it is not profit-maximizing, therefore it has no fundamental reason to pollute, harm, or exploit the environment or its labourers. Obviously, not every problem can be solved immediately, but this concept offers a viable alternative to traditional business models and is worth considering.

Technologically, the field of natural science has improved drastically. This advancement has enabled us to predict weather patterns, which saves lives from killer hurricanes, storms, and other natural disasters. In today’s globally connected world, disasters in one country affect others. Therefore, we must proactively undertake measures to preserve our environment. Social business is a new idea but its potential has already reached beyond the borders of many countries in the world. We know that it too can enrich the lives for the generations to come.

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