Creative economy ‘to boost Bahrain growth’

Bahrain’s growth momentum can rebound on the back of a more participative and creative economy, which works on a social business model, according to a visiting Nobel laureate.

The country needed to create supportive institutions such as social business funds, said Grameen Bank founder Professor Muhammad Yunus.

He was speaking at the opening of the inaugural Social Business Week in Bahrain, which is organised jointly by the Family Bank and the Grameen Creative Lab.

“Growth comes when you open up the potential of the economy and unleash the creative energy of the society,” he told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

“Social business is all about creative energy and not only the creative energy of a few entrepreneurs. All societies are trying to promote their big entrepreneurs because they create jobs,” he added.

Real entrepreneurship however, rested among the youth whom he urged to think creatively and start employment-generating businesses. “This is a job-oriented society,” he said.

“A job is not the ultimate goal in life,” remarked Yunus.

Taking the example of his native Bangladesh, where a young educated workforce struggles to find employment, he said that a social business model will help change the economy.

“People have begun thinking of creative production and we need to create supportive institutions such as social business funds,” he said.

Bahrain too could create a hub for ideas through educating and empowering its youth. “Young people love ideas and Bahrain can play a very important role in it by becoming a hub for such ideas.

“Bahrain is very well-placed to bring young people together from the whole region and even the wider world,” he said.

The economist criticised the present economic structure, which worked on a profit-making model, discounting the poorer sections of the society.

“The whole economic structure is collapsing because of the way it has been conceptualised,” he said. “The way capitalist systems interpret human beings is unacceptable to me,” he added.

Yunus pointed out that the economic forecast was not good and people needed to rethink the conventional systems for lasting answers and not just short-term solutions. “This is the time of doom and gloom.”

“Is the capitalist system going to give us the solutions to the problems we face?” he asked.

When he began working to make rural Bangladeshis financially inclusive 40 years ago, he encountered poor reception from banks.

“When I asked the banks why they don’t lend to the poor, they told me that the poor were not credit-worthy,” he said.

“I’ve reversed the question and ask now, are the banks people-worthy? “They are not.”

The micro-credit institution Grameen Bank, which he began, now has 8.5 million borrowers, 97 per cent of them women, whom it has helped become financially strong.

“Poverty is not created by the people,” said Yunus. It is not their fault. “It is created by the system,” he stated.

“People always remind you that business is business. “That’s where we went wrong,” he added.

-TradeArabia News Service, September 17, 2012