Living and working in Indonesia during the early 90's was an eye opener for me. Although I had previously come across poor families 'down the street', I had never previously been confronted with so much poverty until I saw it face to face in South East Asia. I couldn't comprehend how a family could be so destitute and desperate that they would break the legs of one of their children so that he/ she would be able to bring in money for the family by begging on the streets in between cars, pushing themselves along on a skateboard. It was during that time that I had the privilege to be leading a project which was working with poor landless communities in three villages on Lombok, Eastern Indonesia. I came to appreciate the dignity that even poor people hold on to, and to understand that if you give poor people the power to help themselves, they can lift themselves out of poverty.
I have great admiration for business and political leaders who aren't afraid to tackle poverty and other social problems head on, particularly when they 'roll up their sleeves' and do something tangible to address the situation. There is no one that I admire more than Professor Muhammed Yunus, Nobel Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank - an innovative banking programme that provides poor people with small loans to start micro-businesses. In partnership with some of the world's most visionary business leaders, Yunas has launched the worlds first purposely designed social business. His vision is for earth to be transformed by thousands of social businesses, creating a world without poverty. What are social businesses? They are like any other business except that they exist for social objectives rather than for personal gain.He sees two types of social businesses: The first focusing on social objectives only, while the second can be any profitable businesses so long as it is owned by the poor and disadvantaged.
Read more about his work at http://www.muhammadyunus.org