College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Social Entrepreneurs Gather in BIF


by Dana Howard

Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, writer of 2 best-selling books, and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, just added another accomplishment to his list. On March 1, 2010, Yunus was presented with the Presidential Award and Medallion by Bob Easter, the interim chancellor at Illinois.

While at the university, Yunus also delivered a public talk entitled, “Social Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century.” To round out the day of events, students and researchers with social entrepreneurial projects were invited to display posters detailing their projects in the Business Instructional Facility, as well as be available to discuss their projects with others.

Along with complimentary coffee and a cookies, those who attended the event found projects ranging anywhere from the “Microfinance Brigade” to “Clean Burning Stoves in the 21st Century” to “Green Training.”

Paul Magelli, Senior Director of the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership, noted that there is an emerging inter-global movement toward Yunus' idea of social business. He said improving the human conditions by using small profit-making businesses instead of charities and welfare is catching on among students.

Students are showing their interest by traveling to places like Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and many other countries that are demonstrating social problems.

Mark Paik, who was a member of the planning committee for the entrepreneurial event on campus, said bringing this exciting event to the student level was important.

Magelli agreed with Paik when he said that the breadth and depth of the students' interest, and the widespread enthusiasm and commitment on campus is what really made the entire entrepreneurial event a success.

In fact, students are assisting in the premier of a new documentary made my Yunus that will likely come out next fall. There is also talk of opening a local chapter of Yunus' Grameen Bank.

Magelli concluded that throughout his 54 years here at the University, “this event was one of the most profound and poignant experiences we've had on campus. It was very memorable and emotional.”

UIUC College of Business