Whole process begins with the identification of a potential NU (Nobin Udyokta). The implementation structure of the investor, which has village-level staff to work with the entrepreneurs, is responsible for identification of the potential entrepreneurs, helps them develop their business plans, and prepare the NUs to make presentation of their plans to the participants of the Design Lab.
The whole process starts with the home visit of the potential entrepreneur and getting to know him and his family in all details, capture his dreams and fears, and try to build confidence in him. Informal discussion in small groups of four or five takes place to let them get to know each other. Once a sizable number (say 30 to 50) of young men or women have been contacted the village staff will organise an orientation and identification camp in a village. Experienced camp leaders will attend the camp to carry out the identification and confidence building process. Participants learn the rules and procedures of NU programme, ask questions to get a clear picture of the programme. They assess each other's business plans, strength of their business will. Camp leaders give them business games to play and test their problem solving quality
At the end of an intensive get-to-know-your-entrepreneur exercise, camp leaders make a short list of the participants who have impressed them as entrepreneurs likely to succeed, in the first round of selection. The rest are assured that they are kept in the waiting list; they'll be invited in the next camp. In the mean time they can prepare themselves to present a better performance next time.
The short-listed candidates then go through second round of project development exercises, in another convenient location, on a later date. Entrepreneurs selected in this round are invited to Dhaka where they'll give final shape to their business plans and give them a professional appearance with the help of trained staff of the investors. Project summaries are prepared in English for a five minute presentations at the Design Lab where the entrepreneur has to defend his project. Usually after all this long process of preparation Design Lab does not find any ground to reject any project. Participants give some good advice and flag some issues to help better implementation. In rare cases an entrepreneur is asked to modify his plan to make further improvement and present it0 to the next Lab.
Once the project is approved, handholding process for implementation begins. Investor and the entrepreneur now go through a process of bonding together for a successful journey ahead. All regulatory issues are threshed out, necessary documentation is completed. Monitoring and accounting training are completed. D-Day comes! Funds are released. Business starts rolling.
Grameen Communication, a Grameen software company, has developed an accounting and monitoring software to collect MIS and accounting information from every NU business on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Daily figures are sent via text messages. All information accumulates at the central server, which produces reports for each investor on daily, weekly, monthly or for any other period as the investor would like to have.
SOCIAL BUSINESS VILLAGE: Next step in NU programme is to deepen it by giving it an institutional structure and vision. This is to be done by creating Social Business Villages (SBV). To make it an autonomous, and economically viable entity, we take a Union, lowest local government unit in Bangladesh, covering a cluster of about 20 villages, as the "greater village".
This village unit is being developed as a Social Business Village. Each SBV will have a Social Business Fund and a Social Business Incubation Company. Incubation company will promote the idea of social business, help develop business plans, bring successful social businesses from outside to replicate, create joint ventures with companies from outside the village, network with other Social Business Villages, invite non-resident villagers who are engaged in professional activities outside the village, or the country, to help build up the Social Business Fund and invest in social businesses in their own village. Bangladeshi people have a very strong emotional attachment to their own villages. No matter how long they are away, how far they are away, from their villages, they still feel a strong bond with village. SBV programme may reconnect them to their villages in meaningful ways.
A Social Business Village will qualify to call itself as such only after it is formally recognized at the annual Social Business Day celebration which is held regularly on June 28 every year. Minimum qualification requirement for applying for this recognition is to create at least 25 NU projects and 5 other types of social business successfully.
We are inviting individuals, foundations, and businesses to contact us, if they are interested in creating their own Social Business Villages. We can help them set up appropriate structures to do that, like Social Business Fund, and incubation company. We offer our services to manage the Fund and the company under management contracts. Grameen Telecom trust will select three unions among those who will contact us, to provide matching funds. For these three unions, Grameen Telecom Trust will invest an amount of money equal to whatever amount the union can mobilize on its own. In these cases both the Social Business Fund and the Incubation Company will be managed by Grameen Telecom Trust.
This will be an interesting experience of joint venture between Grameen Telecom Trust and the unions in creating Social Business Villages.
FRANCHISING: Franchising social businesses will also be good way to spread social business. For example, an initiative is underway to franchise an existing social business of producing sanitary napkins in small factories in diverse locations. Each replication will need an investment of Tk 1.0 billion ($ 13,000), employing five people. Equipment for this factory are easy to build, install, and operate. Each SBV can have one or more of these factories as social businesses. Each factory can be owned individually or collectively by women who work in the factory. They can earn additional income by selling their own products among their neighbours.
NEW SOLUTION FOR AN AGE-OLD PROBLEM: When I was promoting credit for the poor women in early years of Grameen Bank, many experts around the world insisted that credit may work for only very limited number of entrepreneurial poor people. Entrepreneurship is a rare quality in people. It is more rare in poor people, they claimed. To counter that, I came out with a reverse position. Position I took was: All human beings are entrepreneurs, with no exception. Not only I promoted that position but also I became a firm believer in it. Microcredit was born out of this firm belief. Current NU programme has the root in the same firm belief.
Social Business may bring a fail-proof new solution for an age-old old problem, i.e. the problem of unemployment. It has application everywhere -- poor countries, rich countries, urban areas, rural areas, tribal areas, isolated areas, anywhere. It does not have to be restricted to any particular group. The young, the old, men, women, the literate, the illiterate, all are good candidates for becoming entrepreneurs. All human beings have their basic creative power. That, backed up by social business framework is all it needs for the success of turning unemployed into entrepreneurs.
Not only would this save people from extreme frustration and the depression of being unemployed, it would give people a new life, new hope and new mode of enjoyment. Everyone would become an active and productive citizen. In the process it would create a new economy. There would be no wastage of human creativity. It would save people from state dependency.
As the first step in this process we may begin by getting busy with turning unemployment into entrepreneurship in social business villages to solve the human problems with efforts of their own people. If we succeed in doing it, we can move confidently in the direction of creating a world without unemployment, and without dependence.
Professor Muhammad Yunus is Nobel Peace Prize winner.