Social Business Conference in Bangladesh

British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson's speech at Social Business Conference.

Professor Yunus, Ms Shahabudin, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to be here today.

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.

This conference has grown over the years and become an important annual fixture in defining and promoting social business in Bangladesh and globally.

I can remember a few years back when Professor Yunus kindly gave a presentation of Social Business at my residence to the British Business Group.

The concept for the group was relatively new: but everyone could see and appreciate the value of it and the real change it could make in people’s lives.

As this conference has grown, both in size and reputation, so has the use of the model And it is certainly needed.

As the world renowned Paul Polman, CEO of the global British company Unilever says. “Capitalism has served us enormously well.

Yet while it has helped to reduce global poverty and expand access to health care and education, it has come at an enormous cost-

It is now our duty to focus on improving the lives of the world’s citizens and come up with genuine sustainable solutions.

No company should be out of synch with the needs of society.

Business is here to serve society.

It needs to accept that social responsibility is now the expected way of doing business.

Only then can we create a world that can eradicate poverty in a more sustainable and equitable way.

Over the next ten years, I am sure, inspired by the thinking of Professor Yunus we are going to see many more initiatives undertaken by companies to protect the long-term interests of society.

In Bangladesh, that journey has already started.

There are countless harrowing stories of poverty around the country.

The social business model is a way forward.

Already some villages and rural communities have embraced the opportunity, especially amongst women.

They have created sustainability for communities to survive and prosper.

This will not only help the person but in the long term, help the country’s economy.

The UK Government believes strongly in the capability of the private sector to improve the prosperity and well-being of poor people.

That’s why we have designated around a quarter of a billion dollars of investment across Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia over the next ten years.

This will be used to develop prosperity and sustainability through social business.

It may not be a huge sum, but all it takes is a small opportunity to create a new beginning.

Before I conclude could I take this opportunity to acknowledge a global partnership, whose members you will meet later on in the day.

This partnership is between Grameen and a British University.

Grameen UK offers microcredit loans to communities and social business entrepreneurs in the UK.

Through this partnership the Glasgow Caledonian University Nursing College in Dhaka was created.

Having his renowned nursing college here in Bangladesh helps deliver high quality professional nursing training to young women and themselves become world class nurses.

It is one of our most exciting and transformative social businesses!

I hope this day is an informative, stimulating, challenging as ever. I urge you to have that debate and look at how social business can change lives and make a better future for tomorrow.

Thank you.