Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus addressed 1,200 participants at the World Forum Lille, capital of North France, about social business as a powerful tool for social change. He discussed about his experience in initiating social businesses to tackle the multi -dimensional problems facing the poor people in Bangladesh. The Forum adopted social business as the theme, following the work of Professor Yunus.
During the Forum, the President of the World Forum Lille and former Agriculture Minister Philippe Vasseur announced a new identity for North France. He named North France as Social Business Region of the country. It would be the first such province in any country. Named as SoBizHub, the region will act as a hub for social innovation and become a leader in creating social business.
The plan to develop a social business ecosystem in the region has been in process of more than one year with the involvement of 125 persons from 65 different organizations in the North France committed to the idea of social business. Four companies, Danone, Veolia and Credit Agricole, McCain Europe which have partnered with Professor Yunus to create social businesses in Bangladesh and around the world have promoted this process in France. Daniel Percheron, President of the North Region of France hosted a lunch in honor of Professor Yunus on this occasion.
During the conference, Jean Bernou, CEO of European Division of Canadian french fry giant McCain announced the launching of its social business program. McCain is currently partnering with Yunus Social Business in Colombia through Campo Vivo, a social business to transform farm workers into independent farm owners and producers.
McCain in cooperation with Professor Yunus will create a social business in Greece, where current youth unemployment rate is 70 %, to create opportunities for young people in agricultural enterprises, and will help to re-migrate and settle youth in that country. This would be an example of social business to tackle youth unemployment in Europe, which, if successful, could be replicated in other countries facing similar unemployment situation.
During Professor Yunus’s visit, the Catholic University of Lille announced the creation of a social business chair at that university. The purpose is of the chair is to teach young management students that a different economy, based on social business, is possible.
The World Forum at Lille, France took place from October 21-24, 2014.