By Helmuth Fuchs

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder of the Grameen Bank in the interview

  • on the state of the Grameen Bank and whether it can operate independently from the government (0:12)

„The bank is doing very well indeed because the government did not interfere. It’s very successful, progressing and expanding.“

  • on what needs to be done to make this type of financing more widespread (0:40)

„Financial services are like economic oxygen for people. When you deny financial oxygen for people, they can not be economically active, they collapse and we call them poor people.“

„Unfortunately, the world has built a financial system which is extremely good in denying poor people financing. We need to redesign the whole financial system, so everybody has access to financial services.“

  • on who is in charge of improving the current system (2:23)

„You and me, everybody else, the people who are concerned about poverty and people suffering.“

„Where we can improve, it’s in the area of bringing breakthrough technologies to the market.“

  • on which role traditional banks, which now start building investment products on microfinancing, should play in this area (3.20)

„All financial institutions should have this concern, that they are not paying attention to the people who need it the most.“

„The design of the financial institutions is for the rich. If I am really concerned, I create a separate entity, a bank designed for the poor and run it parallelly. One bank for the rich, one bank for the poor.“

  • on how to switch from a model which is focused on the „homo oeconomicus“ to a more social economic model (4:40)

„The „homo oeconomicus“ is fundamentally misrepresented. It is interpreted as humans being driven by self-interest, that human beings are all selfish beings and we are busy making that come true.“

„Human beings are both, selfish and selfless, at the same time, but the economic system forgot the selfless part. So we need to develop that other part of the system, the selfless system.“

  • on a possible counter-model to the „America first“ selfish worldview (7:40)

„We are trying to break walls, not build walls.“

„The reality is: Poor people are missing out an all the improvements and developments that are happening because of the extreme concentration of wealth. “

„When you have five and somebody has five billion, you don’t talk about inequality, this is an obscene difference.“

„Create a selfless part of the system and solve the problem in a business way, in a sustainable way. The speed at which wealth is growing slows down, and it will be distributed.“

  • on how these systems with the great inequalities, based on democracy, will change in the near future (14:35)

„It’s a democratic system, so we have to talk about it. Today we are not talking about it.“

„Explosion of wealth for whom? That question is not raised.“

  • on how the next generation which is passed a massive amount of unresolved environmental and social problems can they find better solutions (15:30)

„Artificial intelligence is coming. It will reduce the costs, the profit margins will increase, we won’t need to hire human beings to do anything.“

„With a universal basic income, the ultimate future of the human being is to become a begger, to live on the state charity.“

„That’s not a prospect anyone should ever enjoy. Human beings are creative, active beings.“

„We have to pause for a while and admit, that the system we are running has basic flaws.“

  • on how much digitisation, blockchain or artificial intelligence will change the situation for the better for the majority of the people (18:15)

„As long as you keep the system as it is, no matter what you do, you are only making more money for the people at the top. You are not sharing it, there is no sharing mechanism built into it.“

  • on countries that can serve as examples of sustainable development for the benefit of their citizens (19:10)

„I don’t see much, because all the countries use the same system. Some try to cure it by taxing the rich and benefit the poor. So that’s an afterthought, but the system is not doing it.“

  • on how the young people will they be able to gain more power in these structures (20:30)

„One way is to achieve three zeros: Zero poverty, zero unemployment, zero net carbon emission. In order to achieve that you have to redesign the system we have got.“

„Go back to the machine and fix it, it can be fixed. Interpret the human being differently, as selfish and selfless. Build two kinds of businesses, one to make money and one to solve peoiple’s problems in a sustainable way.“

„Human life is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is basic to the human being, not employment.“

„The giant of a human being squeezed into a little slot, that is a job.“

  • on how confident he is that we are smart enough to change the system before it destroys us (28:00)

„Ultimately human beings are very creative. They will find the solutions.“

„We don’t have much time left. We reached the point of no return.“ 

„You draw a line for when technology becomes a course. And never cross that line. Today there is no line defined yet.“

  • on his two wishes at the end of the interview (31:28)

„I hope people will wake up.“

„Redesign the education system to create life-ready young people, not job-ready workers.“

Muhammad Yunus on Wikipedia


The interview was conducted with the support of Gennex