Honored to Talk with Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus About Post-COVID-19 World [2021/12/21]
I join an online talk session with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus (right above) on December 2, 2021, to discuss our vision for the world in a post-COVID-19 era.
It was a great honor and pleasure for me to participate in an online talk session with Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus to discuss our vision for the world in a post-COVID-19 era, focusing on education.
Dr. Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist and civil society leader, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization he founded in 1983 to provide loans to poor people who cannot access mainstream banks. This initiative has since inspired similar programs worldwide.
In the December 2 talk session, he noted that as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the world economy has “stopped functioning and collapsed” with billions of people falling below the poverty line across the world.
However, he insisted that this has given us a “great opportunity to build a new train to a new destination”, to redesign the whole capitalist system based on his vision of a new economy of “three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero CO2 emissions.”
Even before COVID-19, Dr. Yunus said, the capitalist engine in its current form has inevitably led to rampant inequality, massive unemployment and environmental destruction. Only about 1% of the world’s population owns 99% of the global wealth, a situation that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. This is “a ticking time bomb,” he said, warning: “Before it’s too late, we should redesign the machine.”
Toward this goal, Dr. Yunus called for a global support network to help young entrepreneurs launch their start-ups. He invited young people to join his movement by becoming entrepreneurs, to be a “pilot of this new spacecraft” and start innovative social businesses designed to serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth. “We can do that. We should not give up.”
In my remarks to the session, which I joined at his invitation, I supported his philosophy of “three zeros,” noting that his comments made me believe that the world really needs him as he is one of the few people to think of the post-COVID era in a positive way. Especially, I fully agreed with him when he stated that young people should take the lead in innovating society, adding: “Your prescient presentation gives people of the world courage, hope and passion.”
In connection with the social businesses he mentioned, I stated that The Nippon Foundation has joined the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Development Bank of Japan in forming an organization to provide poor women in Asia with unsecured loans for starting up businesses. “It may be a bit different from what Dr. Yunus is doing, but the number of loans giving Asian women ways to make a living is increasing at an extraordinary pace," I said.
I also told the session that the foundation has joined “The Valuable 500” as a Global Impact Partner by providing support totaling $5 million over the next three years to the global network of CEOs of 500 companies committed to including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.
The Valuable 500 membership includes global companies from 36 countries, among them Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, BBC, BP, Daimler, P&G, Unilever, Sony and Softbank.
There are more than 1.2 billion persons with disabilities in the world, who have talent, passion and ability, but many of them are excluded from society because of their disabilities and not having the opportunity to work, I stated.
Referring to the disparities in wealth Dr. Yunus mentioned, I am asking the CEOs of those global companies if it is OK to leave the world’s inequality unattended. “What we are trying to do is to solve the CEOs’ poorness of mind,” I added.
I also noted that an increasing number of young Japanese have come to believe that they can make their life meaningful by using what they learn through education for the sake of those in need.
As Dr. Yunus said, it is young people who can challenge and change the world. I am ready to work with him, Valuable 500 CEOs and others to encourage and support the young across the globe to become entrepreneurs who are not just in it for themselves, but who help each other in a spirit of altruism in a post-COVID-19 era.