Muhammad Yunus, renowned Nobel laureate and Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, brought his inspiring message of “Creating a World of Three Zeros” to Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, on March 21. The event was sponsored by Adelphi’s Hagedorn Lectureship on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Christopher Storm, PhD, Adelphi provost and executive vice president, introduced Yunus. “Adelphi has a legacy of promoting connection and transformation, and a commitment to furthering ideas and actions that make the world a better place for all people. Professor Muhammad Yunus is a true example of living these values.”
Considered the father of the microfinance movement, Yunus founded Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983 by lending small amounts of money to people in need. He said, “Imagine millions of the poorest, illiterate women in Bangladesh taking tiny loans and transforming themselves into entrepreneurs. Everyone has this ability in them. They just need the way.” Grameen, Yunus explained, means “rural” in Bangladeshi.
Today, Grameen Bank has more than 10 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. The bank boasts a 98 percent repayment rate.
With an audience of Adelphi students, faculty, staff and friends, Yunus talked with Deborah Hunt, PhD ’12, dean of the Adelphi College of Nursing and Public Health, to share his deep belief that everyone can play a part in eradicating poverty.
Yunus stated, “We must create a world with zero unemployment, zero wealth concentration and zero net carbon emissions. The system we have now is based on the wrong premise. It is a poverty-creating machine. We must get away from fundamentally chasing money and wealth.”
The Nobel laureate left his audience with his belief that every person is born an entrepreneur, and that every person can take small steps to change the world. He said, “You have to flip the script and abandon the idea of maximizing wealth. Remember your human values and follow them. Then we will change the future for the better.”
An Inspired New Nursing School Partnership
The afternoon with Professor Yunus was also a culmination of numerous inspired events that have led to a partnership between the Adelphi College of Nursing and Public Health and the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing (GCCN) based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, founded by Yunus in 2011.
The two institutions have agreed to explore exchanging faculty members and staff, sharing academic materials, offering faculty development and jointly participating in seminars.
Dr. Hunt said, “Today’s event signifies a new beginning for Adelphi University and the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing. I believe all the stars aligned, especially when I think back to Adelphi’s 125th Gala less than a year ago when I first learned about this amazing opportunity to partner with Professor Yunus. I am grateful the seed was planted then and am looking forward to seeing where the journey takes us.”
Yunus said, “This is how it is done—you take a tiny seed and see if it will grow into a big thing. I didn’t expect dreams to come true so fast, but here I am—at Adelphi, holding our agreement, signed and sealed.”
President Christine M. Riordan, PhD, welcomed Yunus, his daughter Monica Yunus, co-founder of Sing For Hope, and colleagues from Grameen Creative Lab to Adelphi. She said, “I am excited about the possibilities of our partnership, and so pleased to work with someone as extraordinary as Professor Yunus.”