By Mohammad Yunus
- A World of Three Zeros; The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions (2017)
- Building Social Business; The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs (2010)
A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and bestselling author of Banker to the Poor offers in A World of Three Zeros his vision of an emerging new economic system that can save humankind and the planet.
Muhammad Yunus, who created microcredit, invented social business, and earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in alleviating poverty, is one of today’s most trenchant social critics. Now he declares it’s time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken – that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. We need a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest.
Is this a pipe dream? Not at all. In the last decade, thousands of people and organizations have already embraced Yunus’s vision of a new form of capitalism, launching innovative social businesses designed to serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth. They are bringing solar energy to millions of homes in Bangladesh; turning thousands of unemployed young people into entrepreneurs through equity investments; financing female-owned businesses in cities across the United States; bringing mobility, shelter, and other services to the rural poor in France; and creating a global support network to help young entrepreneurs launch their start-ups.
In A World of Three Zeros, Yunus describes the new civilization emerging from the economic experiments his work has helped to inspire. He explains how global companies like McCain, Renault, Essilor, and Danone got involved with this new economic model through their own social action groups, describes the ingenious new financial tools now funding social businesses, and sketches the legal and regulatory changes needed to jumpstart the next wave of socially driven innovations. And he invites young people, business and political leaders, and ordinary citizens to join the movement and help create the better world we all dream of.
Linda Nemec on Washington Independent Review of Books wrote:
"To be fair to Mr. Yunus, perhaps such utopian rhetoric is meant to motivate support for the more feasible programs he has in mind. His favored solution to making global progress against poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions is social entrepreneurship, the creation of 'self-sustaining' businesses that operate with 'freedom from profit pressures and from the demands of profit-seeking investors,' making 'social businesses viable even in circumstances where current capitalist markets fail.' It's the same principle behind Grameen Bank, which Mr. Yunus founded to offer small loans to the poor, and for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. [...] If you want to motivate support for social enterprise, a utopian promise of A World of Three Zeros makes for a better book title than 'Helping 60 Albanian Farmers Grow Herbs.' And Mr. Yunus's paean to entrepreneurship does indeed deliver inspiration about the power of human creativity. But problematic arguments remain, especially his imprecise criticisms of the current economic system and the implausibility of replacing the whole system with social entrepreneurship. [...] A major problem is one of scale. Mr. Yunus's many social-enterprise examples are all on the same micro level as the 60 Albanian herb farmers. [...] Mr. Yunus prefers to criticize the market system--and mainstream economics--for its celebration of selfish greed as the basis of everything. This is a common misunderstanding of Adam Smith's invisible hand, which privileges individual choice, not individual selfishness. [...] Mr. Yunus also overlooks the benefits of markets in alleviating poverty. He attributes much of the progress so far to the efforts of foreign-aid donors and social enterprises such as the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals [...] The answer isn't to replace the market system with social enterprises, but to target the market failures and enforce laws or regulations against deception in financial markets. Mr. Yunus's call to scrap a system that works, however imperfectly, for a vaguely defined and unproven system that relies mainly on social entrepreneurship, is a far too risky project."
Juan Pablo Jiménez Melero on Medium wrote:
"Muhammad Yunus wants us to know that capitalism is doing just what it is meant to do: create and concentrate wealth. But in his book A World of Three Zeros, Yunus advocates rethinking the basic tenets of capitalism, given that poverty and unemployment demean so many, and that climate change threatens so much. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, known for his creative solutions to alleviating poverty, questions Adam Smith’s assumption that a 'human being is basically a personal-gain-seeking being' and asks us to consider the social dimension to the decisions and investments we make. He lays out a new framework, supported by his own successful economic experiments, for better tapping human capital to solve the world’s problems. The author’s basic premise is that 'people are both selfish and selfless, and that both motivations can be applied to economic activity.' [..] His framework is thought-provoking and has real potential to make a difference, but his strong political views and anti-capitalism rhetoric are likely to turn off some readers. [...] The book is inspirational, but it becomes repetitive if you’re reading for recommendations [...] I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to read that what Yunus proposes, with changes to laws and regulations, could easily sit next to existing systems in most countries — developed and developing. The topic and the engaging stories of success should interest all types of readers."
"Muhammad starts the book with 'The failures of Capitalism', where he explains the key fail component of Capitalism: it’s misunderstanding of human nature. In Capitalism humans are selfish, we seek only our own benefit. He proposes another vision based on how people dedicate time and money to help others, people who risk even their lives to improve the lives of others. Here is the great opportunity of social business: a business whose core objective isn’t to earn money but creating an impact on human lives. This kind of business show the entrepreneur DNA of humanity, a DNA that could allow us to generate companies that do not accumulate wealth but distribute it while solving humanity (and communities) problems. [...] Overall, the book is inspiring and have shown me a positive outlook for the future. For me, the key is about promoting an education system and a society that encourage entrepreneurs to solve real problems."
Table of Contents of A World of Three Zeros
Part I - The Challenge
- The Failures of Capitalism
- Creating a New Civilization: The Countereconomics of Social Business
Part II - The Three Zeros
- Zero Poverty: Bring an End to Income Inequality
- Zero Unemployment: We Are Not Job Seekers, We Are Job Creators
- Zero Net Carbon: Creating an Economics of Sustainability
- A Roadmap to a Better Future
Part III - Megapowers for Transforming The World
- Youth: Energizing and Empowering the Young People of the World
- Technology: Unleasing the Power of Technology to Liberate All People
- Good Governance and Human Rights: Keys to Building a Society that Works for All
Part IV: Stepping Stones to the Future
- The Legal and Financial Infrastructure We Need
- Redesigning the World of Tomorrow
About Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, fueled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. From Dr. Yunus’ personal loan of small amounts of money to destitute basketweavers in Bangladesh in the mid-70s, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through microlending. Replicas of the Grameen Bank model operate in more than 100 countries worldwide. Born in 1940 in the seaport city of Chittagong, Professor Yunus studied at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, then received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt in 1969 and the following year became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. Returning to Bangladesh, Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University. From 1993 to 1995, Professor Yunus was a member of the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women, a post to which he was appointed by the UN secretary general. He has served on the Global Commission of Women’s Health, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance.