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Six ways to think differently about the world from a Nobel Prize winner

15 January 2021

A social entrepreneur, banker and economist, Professor Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his creation of the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concept of microfinance – he has since helped millions of people out of poverty. 

Here are some of the big ideas he shared with us here at Change Makers.

  • People have surrendered their creativity for jobs 

Conventional economic theory started on the wrong foot, he explains: “It started by telling everybody they needed to get a job. Telling us that if you don’t have a job, that’s your fault and you have a problem. But human beings are not here to accept a job from someone else. Humans are all packed with creative capacity. We can create our own wealth. But as things are you must surrender your creativity to put yourself into a tiny slot – that slot is called a job.”

  • Economic theory has killed common interest 

Economics assumes that human beings are all driven by self-interest alone and the world has been created to support that, argues the Nobel Prize winner: “Economics has turned humans into money-making machines. The drive for self-interest is certainly part of human nature, but so too is common interest and that has been completely ignored by economics. We have created a world of self-interest and extreme wealth concentration is a result, global warming is a result, unemployment is a result.”

  • Poverty is an artificially created state 

Poverty is not natural for humans – we created it so we can destroy it too. “The bulk of people live in poverty because 99% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population. Wealth concentration has created poverty – it is not created by poor people. The economic system we ourselves have created has, in turn, created poverty. So we need to redesign the system.”

  • We need to create new roads to reach new destinations 

We can’t simply move redistribute wealth, he argues: “If you want to see change, you have to change the framework of economics. Otherwise, any revolution or change will simply transfer power from one group to another. That’s not the solution. If you travel down the same road, you always end up in the same destination. You have to build new roads and there is no escaping that.”

  •  We are all entrepreneurs

Everyone is born an entrepreneur and we should nurture that: “Why should anyone work for anybody else? We are all born as entrepreneurs but economic theory blocks it out and says ‘no, you are serving other people’. Imagine if all human beings are entrepreneurs, there can be no wealth concentration. If I don’t work for you, you can’t concentrate all of the wealth in your hands. You’re just like me. I create my own wealth, you create your own wealth – we all make our own wealth.”

  • Education is wired incorrectly

We are given the wrong education – it is the education to serve somebody, says Yunis. “All educational institutions say the same thing ‘you work hard, you get good grades, you get into the best school, so you can get the best job’. The end result is always a job. The same institutions could teach people they have two options – you can get a job OR you can become an entrepreneur. If you want to become an entrepreneur you don’t need a piece of paper, you can start your business at school – most