Professor Muhammad Yunus invites Olympic Movement to promote entrepreneurship and social business

03 Aug 2016
IOC News

Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus gave an inspirational keynote speech on the need for social business, youth entrepreneurship and how the Olympic Movement has a unique power to promote and energise this “spirit” among young people and host cities at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro today.

Professeor Muhammad Yunus at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro IOC/Ian Jones
Watch Professor Muhammad Yunus’ full address here:
In his address, Professor Yunus applauded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its capacity to draw the attention of millions of people on the planet to sport in a way that very few others can. 

“The sports world has so much power because it draws on the emotion, the excitement, […] and on all the hopes and aspirations of people,” he said.  He reiterated how sport has a unique ability to capture the minds of young people and open up their imagination, helping them develop independence, self-confidence, overcome odds and make the impossible possible – all key attributes for entrepreneurship.

An entrepreneur and innovator himself, Professor Yunus suggests that placing a focus on youth entrepreneurship can “give a new perspective for looking at the new generation” and hence contribute to achieving Goal 8 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He called upon the Olympic Movement to leverage its capacity of engaging young people to promote the spirit of social business among them. 

During an interactive Q&A session with a number of interventions from IOC members, which had to be cut short due to time constraints, Professor Yunus also offered some thoughts on how Olympic Games host cities or future Candidate Cities could already engage with its citizens that have “enormous, limitless capacity with their creativity” and “create social business cities as a legacy”. 

IOC President Bach said: “Social business is what connects the world of sport with Professor Yunus’ work. Our mission is to make the world a better place through sport. Our commercial success allows us to redistribute more than 90 per cent of our revenue to the sporting movement, benefiting athletes and communities around the world. We look forward to the advice of Professor Yunus on how we can cooperate further.” 

Professor Muhammad Yunus and IOC President Thomas Bach IOC/Ian Jones

The Nobel laureate expressed his delight at the openness and eagerness of the IOC to “work together” on trying to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. On Thursday, he will be running with the Olympic torch in Rio de Janeiro.

Professor Muhammad Yunus is the father of both social business and microcredit, the founder of Grameen Bank, and of more than 50 other companies in Bangladesh. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his ground-breaking work on microcredit, for demonstrating that by empowering the poorest of the poor, their lives can be transformed. In social business, another concept pioneered by Professor Yunus, the purpose of an organisation is to benefit people and the planet in a sustainable way by using best business practices. Professor Muhammad Yunus is the recipient of 59 honorary degrees from universities across 20 countries. He has received 112 awards from 26 countries.

Sport as an “important enabler” 

Last September, in a historic moment for sport and the Olympic Movement, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the post-2015 development agenda. Sport was included in the final outcome document as an “important enabler” of the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the UN Member States with a commitment to implement them by 2030. This recognised the important role that sport can play in promoting healthy lifestyles, education, peace and social inclusion.

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