The Global Social Business Summit took place in Mexico City from 27-28 November 2014. It was inaugurated by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus on the morning of 27 November at Expo Bancomer convention centre in Mexico City.
Professor Yunus made a keynote speech highlighting that we need new way to think about changing the world, that change will come about through small actions, and repeating those actions to reach scale. He said the Summit was an opportunity for us to share experience of all the exciting social business that are developing around the world to energize each other.
The Minister of Economy Mr Ildefonso Guajardo also delivered a keynote speech highlighting the importance that microcredit and social business can play in Mexico and reiterating his government’s commitment to building social business in the country.
The Summit, which was organized by Grameen Creative Lab, Green Street of Mexico and Yunus Centre, opened with 720 people from 50 countries to talk about how social busienss, a non-dividend company to solve human problems, can tackle some of the pressing social problems of the day.
The Summit brought together practitioners of social business from around the world as well as the supporters of social business to share experiences of how social businesses can be created and scaled up, and also to learn what motivates the supporters of social business to get involved. Supporters includin the director of government agency Inadem, and the CEOs of Cemex, a leading cement company, Banamex, the national bank of Mexico, CEO of Siemens Foundation, CEO of Lombard Odier Foundation, Ashoka and others spoke about their motivation in supporting social business in Mexico and their own plans to begin social business in the country.
Existing social business CEOs presented updates of their actions, including updates of social businesses in Bangladesh such as the Grameen Bank, Grameen Shakti, Grameen’s Nobin Udyokta initiatives. New social businesses from Japan, France, South Africa were showcased at a Pecha Kucha session. There were also updates on social businesses operated by Yunus Social Business in Haiti, Colombia, Brasil. There was also a social business marketplace and specialized “Agenda of the Future” sessions including sessions on Grameen Healthcare and Grameen Shakti.
Focus group discussions had themes like “Scaling and replicating social business” “Impact measurement and assessment of social business” , “Social Business for Women’s Empowerment” “Water as Social Business” among others
During plenary sessions, practitioners exchanged best practices and imagined what social business in 2020 would look like, and what would be needed for social business to become a pillar of the global economy. Practitioners committed to building social business to become 1% of the global economy in the near future. The role of social business to tackle global unemployment was highlighted, and the need for young people in taking forward the movement.
Several important announcement were made during the Summit including an announcement of US$ 5 million for social business from USAID for Haiti, Albania and Uganda. There was announement on the creation of a Yunus Social Business Incubator Fund in Veracruz, Mexico with the support of the Veracruz government. In addition CEMEX, leading international cement company announced a social business in housing in Mexico.
A Mexican company Es Por Todos announced the earmarking of US$ 1 million for social business in Mexico. La Trobe University in Australia announced the creation of a Yunus Social Business Centre at their business school. In addition, Finance Secretary of Mexico City DF announced its intention to become a Social Business City.
Before the Summit began, a Social Business Research Conference to review the academic work that has developed around social business in universities from France, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, Scotland among others. Professor Yunus also addressed a meeting of Young Challengers where dynamic young people from around the world who are passionate about social business were brought together to plan actions for the future.
Summit concluded with a call of action from Professor Yunus who said “The Summit has ended, now is the time for the action to begin”
After the conclusion of the Summit, Professor Yunus delivered a public lecture on Saturday afternoon to a packed audience of 1500 people, mostly young Mexicans, at the Expo Bancomer describing his journey from initiating microcredit in the early seventies to creating social business to tackle social problems affecting the poor and vulnerable people around the world.