Fukuoka has become the second city in the world to be named “Social Business City” for spreading activities based on the much-talked-about economic theory championed by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus.
Soichiro Takashima, the recently elected mayor of the Japanese city, made the announcement at the closing of the Asian Forum for Social Business that took place in the city on July 21-23.
Wiesbaden of Germany was the first city in the world to have been named “Social Business City”.
Fukuoka, which was announced as a social business hub last year, has now formally adopted the title of Social Business City and would promote zero-dividend business to solve social problems in Fukuoka and across Asia.
Also on Saturday, Kyushu University announced a plan to set up a new academic centre named “Yunus Shiiki Centre for Research on Social Business”. A prominent businessman of the city, Shiiki funds the centre.
The ceremony took place in the presence of 1,250 participants at the closing of the three-day forum, Yunus Centre said in a statement.
Earlier on July 21, mayor Takashima opened the Asia Forum for Social Business, which brought together a number of influential policy-makers and businessmen of Japan.
Following opening speech by Prof Yunus, chief executives of Uniqlo, Danone and Veolia, all of whom have joint venture social businesses in Bangladesh, took part in a high-level panel discussion. The president of Kyushu University also joined in.
During the three days of deliberations, participants prepared and presented innovative business plans. These social businesses included a Tohoku cultural resurgence company for presenting musical and cultural events throughout Japan and an agricultural company named Grameen Agricultural Company to facilitate the rehabilitation of agriculture and fisheries in the region hit by the March 2011 earthquake.
These business plans were prepared during workshops at the forum by the heads of non-governmental and non-profit organisations, foundations and businesses, and adjudged by Prof Yunus.
During his stay in Fukuoka, the microcredit pioneer opened a two-storied building “Grameen House” on Kyushu University campus, which will accommodate all the social business research and classroom teaching sessions. It is the first of its kind among the universities which have launched social business programmes.
Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, addressed a meeting with 100 women leaders of Fukuoka, and delivered a keynote speech to 60 young peace ambassadors and 400 eleven-year-old junior peace ambassadors from around the world at the annual Asia Pacific Children’s Convention that takes place annually at Munukata in Fukuoka prefecture.
-With The Daily Star input