Yunus Urges to Build a World of Hope
Yunus Centre Press Release (April 02, 2017)
Paris wants to be the global capital of social business
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was invited by Mayor Ann Hidalgo to Paris as chief guest at the Impact 2 conference at the Paris Town Hall on March 30, also to present this year's Impact 2 Woman Entrepreneur Award at the event.
In her opening speech at the conference Mayor Hidalgo thanked Professor Yunus for his life's work and example, and explained how they wished to build Paris as a global social business capital inspired by his work. She also explained to the gathered audience of nearly 1,000 how social business idea had been placed at the centre of Paris' bid for the Summer Olympics of 2024.
During the ceremony Professor Yunus was invited to share his thoughts about Paris adopting social business as a way forward for the city, and also on it being an integral part of the city's Olympic bid. Professor Yunus talked about all the negativity going around the world right now and said that Paris wanted to rekindle the indomitable spirit of human beings to overcome adversities and create a new wave of hope even in the face of seeming insurmountable global political economic and social challenges.
During the ceremony, Professor Yunus was invited to present the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award at the ceremony to a woman entrepreneur selected from among nine finalists from South Africa, Bangladesh, Chile, Lebanon, Morocco, France, Italy, Hong Kong and Belgium. Earlier in the day, Professor Yunus was invited to listen to the pitches from all nine entrepreneurs and together with other members of the jury helped to select the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. All projects presented were remarkable in their own way. The winner was Umgibe project of South Africa. The entrepreneur Nonhlanhla Joye had been a cancer patient and had begun growing organic vegetables to feed herself healthy food during her illness, in an impoverished Durban township. This small project grew to involve hundreds of women organized into 38 cooperatives in the same community, to grow organic vegetables to feed themselves and sell the surplus to the market. The company will receive investment and other support from Inco, the company that organized and hosted the Impact 2 conference.
Abida Sultana a woman entrepreneur from Bangladesh who is running a catering service social business to provide hygienic and healthy meals at the cost of Taka 35 per meal (21 euro cents) in Chittagong was one of the nine finalists and came second among the top-voted project in the competition. It currently provides meals to 500 people per day, but plans to expand this to 10,000 meals a day.
During his two day stay in Paris, Professor Yunus had a meeting with Mr Rioux Remy Director of Agence Francaise de Developpment (AFD) the main development assistance agency of French government and his team at their headquarters The AFD in considering including social business as part of the strategy of the organization going forward.
Professor Yunus also attended a series of other meetings for the establishment of Yunus Centre Paris, which will be launched in the fall. It may be mentioned that Mayor Ann Hidalgo has provided an office to Yunus Centre in the historic Les Canaux building in the famous 19eme arrondisement of Paris city.