Nepali microfinance institutions (MFIs) have succeeded in expanding access to finance for the poor, but it is not enough as they have to now link microcredit to social business and help generate employment, according to Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus.
The founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh for the poor — that won him the Nobel Peace Prize — Yunus, in his keynote speech during the concluding ceremony of the national conference, 'Revisiting Nepal Microfinance Vision 2015' here today, also asked microfinance practitioners to become agents of socio-economic change by helping solve problems of the poor as governments have not been able to do so.
"Governments cannot make changes, but people can do so, though it may be little," he said, adding that microcredit is a tool that can create opportunities in generating employment.
"Money that is invested will come back unlike charity money that will never come back," said the septuagenarian leader. "Investing in social business is key to change society."
"When microcredit and social business come together, it will be a greater force that can change society," according to the father of microcredit and social business.
Suggesting entrepreneurs to contribute to social business as part of their corporate social responsibility, Yunus said that making money is happiness but making other people happy and also making money is super happiness.
Mentioning that society has suppressed human beings who have tremendous capacity by not giving them a chance to unleash it, he said that the system is pressing them and not allowing them to grow and that is where microcredit comes into play.
"It is human beings who should be pressing the system and not vice versa," he said, adding that everyone has become a slave of the system, "But microcredit has been able to ask them and address their problems and changed their lives," he philosophised about microfinance.
"To be unemployed is not their fault and microcredit should help those who are punished by the system become a job creator, not a job seeker," the Nobel Laureate said, suggesting participants to set up a Social Business Fund that can help support social business.
Joining the bandwagon, president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Binod Chaudhary promised to set up a Social Business Fund of $1 million over the next three years. "Unemployment is a pressing issue the country is facing as over half a million youths go abroad seeking jobs every year," he said, adding that creating employment back home can sustain the country, as remittance is not a long-term solution to the economy.
On the occasion, vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC) Deependra Bahadur Kshetry highlighted some of the challenges like unhealthy competition in the microfinance sector, whereas central bank governor Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada hailed the contribution of MFIs in expanding access to finance and reducing poverty despite the political transition in the last 15 years.Caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, on behalf of the Nepali microfinance fraternity, felicitated Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus for his contribution in uplifting the lifestyle of the poor across the globe.