I was teaching in one of the universities while the country was suffering from a severe famine. People were dying of hunger, and I felt very helpless. As an economist, I had no tool in my tool box to fix that kind of situation.
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I began my career as an economics professor but became frustrated because the economic theories I taught in the classroom didn't have any meaning in the lives of poor people I saw all around me. I decided to turn away from the textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person's existence.
I dismiss personal profit and focus exclusively on people and planet. That's what I call social business: a nondividend company dedicated to solving human problems. You can go all the way, forgetting about personal profit, being single-minded about solving problems. The company makes profit, but profit stays with the company.
The new millennium began with a great global dream. World leaders gathered at the United Nations in 2000 and adopted, among others, a historic goal to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Never in human history had such a bold goal been adopted by the entire world in one voice, one that specified time and size.
There is the expression of selfishness and there is the expression of selflessness - but economists or theoreticians never touched that part. They said: 'Go and become a philanthropist.' I said, 'No, I can do that in the business world, create a different kind of business - a business based on selflessness.'