This past Sunday, the Grameen Creative Lab officially opened its doors in India with a workshop in Mumbai. Hans Reitz, the Creative Advisor to Professor Muhammad Yunus and co-founder of the Grameen Creative Lab, and Aarti Wig, who will head the lab’s efforts in India, led the event.
Beginning the event with a chime from his large gong, Reitz explained Yunus’ definition of social business: a business working for the social good in which original investment is returned and all profits are reinvested into the expansion of the company.
The first social business was a joint venture between Grameen and Danone, the French yogurt producer. The agreement was made in 2006, and production of a nutritional yet affordable yogurt product for Bangladeshi children was started soon after.
This view of business for social good taps into the “selflessness” of people. Because the stakeholders of the company cannot make any profits, they must be motivated by social returns.
“Social business is simple,” Reitz said. “That is why it’s not easy. To accept simplicity is the biggest journey.”
The Grameen Creative Lab practices what it preaches: all employees are required to volunteer for the first three months and then take a salary that is “enough.” Reitz defines this by stipulating that your salary should not be more than seven times higher than the average citizen’s salary.
At the workshop on Sunday, participants were split into groups looking at social business models in education, energy, health care and social media. The social media group invented a game called Krida that would attempt to attract FarmVille addicts to game for social good.
The event, which attracted close to 100 people, brought together a diverse crowd that ranged from sound engineers at Reliance Media Works to representative from social businesses such as Mirakle Couriers.
Judging by the number of attendees who stayed until the last chime of Reitz’ gong and the number of people gathering to talk after the event, I would say the Grameen Creative Lab is well on it’s way to creating a social business community in Mumbai.
“Mumbai can be a hub for social business in Asia,” Reitz said.
Photo Credit: Grameen Creative Lab