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‘Social Business Fund’ Could Address Social Problems In Haiti, Including Health, Nobel Laureate Says

At a recent event in Miami, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, outlined his idea of creating a “social business fund” in Haiti, which would invest money in businesses that aim to address social problems in the country, the Miami Herald reports.

“Yunus said the idea is already showing success in his native Bangladesh. One of his flagship social businesses is Grameen Danone Foods, a joint venture between Yunus’ Grameen Bank and food conglomerate Danone. In that case, the multinational company agreed to make a special yogurt for Bangladesh that includes micronutrients lacking in the local diet. Two cups of the yogurt per week for one year can reverse the malnutrition that plagues about half of all children, Yunus said. … While Danone can recover its investment, the social business model requires all profits be plowed back into the business to keep fighting the root problem: malnutrition,” the newspaper writes.

Yunus said a similar model could be used to deal with health, housing, energy and transportation issues in Haiti. He also said social businesses could help speed the pace of development in the country and provide the development community with tangible results. Yunus’ idea is to use 10 percent of charitable donations for the social business fund.

“In charity, a dollar only has one life. You use it and it’s done,” he said. “As a social business, a dollar has an endless life, because it is recycled,” Yunus added.

U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez said of Yunus’ proposal: “This concept is more of a sustainable and enlightened philanthropy. We need to find more creative ways to make use of our philanthropic dollars” (Wyss, 8/31).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.