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Capitalism has failed to solve the world’s major problems. As a result, many social entrepreneurs have been bringing out different social innovations that may undermine the capitalist system. Perhaps the most well-known social innovator of our times is Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work on microfinance. Extending his learning from microfinance, Prof. Yunus developed the concept of social business. He has been working on using this concept to solve the problems of poverty, unemployment, and environmental pollution. The boxes below provide the basic principles and impact of social business.Olivier Toutain: What do you think are the major problems generated by the capitalist system?Muhammad Yunus: Massive problems have been created because of capitalism! One which will threaten the whole world is the extreme form of wealth concentration. This is a byproduct of the capitalist system that we created. This system has, over time, become a machine that sucks up wealth from the bottom and sends it to the top. So, all the wealth of the world is tucked away at the top, in the hands of a few people, a handful of people. The rest of the world only has a small fraction of the wealth available for the entire population of the world. This is not a system: call it capitalism or whatever you like. This is a mockery of a system; it will destroy our society. It is a ticking time bomb. It can explode at any time. Given the general level of disenchantment perceptible in our society and the anger of those at the bottom levels, we can expect an explosion of our world, as we know it…


In the early 1980s, Professor Muhammad Yunus noted that banks were not providing finance to poor entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. He pioneered microcredit and this became a catalytic social innovation that spread across the world. In this interview, Muhammad Yunus underlines the importance of engaging schools, students, researchers, and practitioners in taking concrete steps and achieving results that contribute to the fight against the dark side of entrepreneurial finance supported by the current capitalist system. Performance indicators for a social business focus on measuring the increase in the number of people who have received help. For example, they might measure how many people are no longer unemployed or how many have had health difficulties resolved.

Olivier Toutain
Olivier Toutain is an associate professor in entrepreneurship. His research focuses on entrepreneurship education and the role of sustainability and ethics in entrepreneurial processes. He is assistant editor of the journal Entreprendre & Innover.
Arvind Ashta [1]
Arvind Ashta is professor of Finance at the Burgundy School of Business, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté in Dijon, France and is member of its research center CEREN, EA 7477. He is a member of research associations (RRI, CERMi, PRME Anti-poverty Working Group, among others) and has been associated with the European Microfinance Platform.
  • [1]
    We express many thanks to Noreen O’Shea who helped finalize the editorial version of this interview.
Entretien avec
Muhammad Yunus
Économiste et entrepreneur bangladais, prix Nobel de la Paix en 2006
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