I was very fortunate to meet Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos.

He challenged us to think about how business and the social entrepreneur can bring many solutions to society. He challenged the present model of capitalism, where profits are to be extracted at all costs to society and workers, and suggested a better, more enlightened form of business.

Why should profits be distributed? What if the profits can be continuously reinvested in the business to improve the product or service and bring greater benefits to the customers and employees of the company? Well, the price of the product could be lowered and the service continually improved if all profits were ploughed back into the business. The company could become not only kinder and gentler to its employees, but also to the environment in which it operates.

It is a new form of capitalism, and judging from the latest financial crisis we all suffered, if businesses adhered to the Yunus approach maybe there would be more employment, better products and lower prices for all members of society.

Now that is an idea worth pondering.

 

Author: Philip Wilson, Executive Director, Ecofiltro, Guatemala; Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Central America, 2011

Ecofiltro produces a clay-based filter used to purify contaminated drinking water. The Ecofiltro, made of clay, sawdust and colloidal silver, is an effective, economic and ecological alternative to water purification. With its controlled pore size, it allows water to pass, but traps bacteria, parasitic cysts and faecal residues. It eliminates smell and colour, and keeps the water refreshingly cool. It can be produced in any developing country. Filters are sold to urban populations at a profit, which allows the company to lower the cost for rural populations.

Image: A woman looks at an electronic board at the Tokyo Stock Exchange ieasing – REUTERS/Toru Hanai