Interview with
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus

This year, on June 26-29, the Super HappYYness Festival will take place in Munich, Germany. Two of most impactful global social business conferences will be merged into one. On this occasion, Peace Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus speaks about “social consciousness“, the central topic of the event.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, a definition says that social consciousness is consciousness shared by individuals within a society. What does social consciousness mean for you?

Muhammad Yunus: According to existing economic thinking, individuals are driven by self-interest. On this basic premise, the entire economic theory has been built. It has caused damages to the real economy. The theory removed the social dimension completely.

As a result, this theory led the followers to take wrong decisions. That’s how major social and environmental problems have been created. To avoid these damages, we should re-design economics in a way to put back social consciousness at the center of economics. Present economic theory encourages entrepreneurs to behave like robots. This will turn the entrepreneurs’ profit-seeking robots to human beings. In general, social consciousness should become the driving force behind all human activities - business - as well as other activities. We cannot live within a society without being socially conscious.

How do we unleash social consciousness in businesses?

Muhammad Yunus: The moment you bring social consciousness into business, it gets shaped differently. It cannot any longer be focused on personal interests alone, to maximize profit, it has to keep the society’s interest in mind.

By bringing social consciousness into economic activities, the world can be reshaped. In that case no investment and marketing decisions will be made without satisfying social consciousness. social businesses will be created solely focusing on social consciousness, totally ignoring opportunities to make personal profit; almost opposite to the present form of businesses. In social business, personal profit is kept down to zero. It is totally driven by social consciousness. Social consciousness is a personal matter. The Individual entrepreneur decides how much role it should play in his business. As a person grows up from childhood to adulthood, he develops his social consciousness appropriate to the purpose of his life. Family upbringing and the educational system play the most important part to preparing an entrepreneur on how much emphasis he or she would pay in social business. Financing facilities for social business and social recognition of the social business entrepreneur are also important factors in encouraging the entrepreneur to move towards creating social businesses.

This year, on June 26-29, you´re celebrating the “Super HappYYness Festival” in Munich, Germany. What does the term “Super HappYYness“ mean to you?

Muhammad Yunus: The idea of “super happiness“ comes from the expression I used in explaining the incentive to an entrepreneur in creating and running a social business. I described it this way:

“Making money may be happiness, making other people happy is super happiness.” Making money is a rather unreliable source of happiness. We are pointing out that making money might be happiness, but the alternative is more attractive, not less. It gives you super happiness.

This Festival will be dedicated to introducing the source of super happiness. Social consciousness leads to social business, and social business generates super happiness. This will be the core message of the Super HappYYness Festival.

There will be a lot of companies attending the Super HappYYness Festival. What would you like to show them?

Muhammad Yunus: Companies are made of people. Sometimes they appear like machines because they are given a strict objective of maximizing the profit of the company. When people behind a company are strictly focused on maximizing profit, the company will have no chance of expressing any social consciousness.

The Festival will present companies which found ways to express their social consciousness by creating parallel companies as social business subsidiaries. Sometimes when you hear about something unfamiliar, you become very protective of your existing thinking. You don’t want to pay attention to new ideas because you have no experience in it, or you think it is too complicated. But when you spend a few quality minutes with someone who doesn’t appear threatening to you, the same ideas look much simpler and easy to grasp. You may even start feeling that you can implement it better than others. That’s what happens in a playful gathering like the Festival. We are hoping that the relaxed environment of the Festival will present the concept of social business in friendly and doable ways.

The Festival will give companies ways to explore how the creative power of their employees can be used to solve social problems. There are many challenges that can be solved by corporates in much more effective ways than by anybody else, by creating social businesses. When you hear about social business for the first time it does not become obvious right away. The Festival creates an environment where it looks obvious.

Basic problems all around the world are the same — problems of healthcare, environment, housing, water, poverty, unemployment, education, financial services, drugs, and so on. Companies have a lot of creative power. When they are really interested in solving social problems, they are surprised to discover that they can do it better than others.

The Festival will bring people and companies who have gone through the process and have created successful social businesses. As an initial step, corporates can send groups of young employees to the Festival to explore what goes on in the Festival. When they get back to office, they may be asked to narrate their experience, to give a concept note on a social business that they would like to try out. Let them defend their ideas in front of their colleagues. This may be designed as their “guided learning journey” of creating businesses with social consciousness at the center of it.

What can the participants expect from the Super HappYYness Festival?

Muhammad Yunus: The Super HappYYness Festival will be organized as a big fair. A little bit like a shopping mall.

The Festival will be designed as a space to offer a lot of different experiences, not only in the field of social business but also beyond. Everybody can pick what he wants - go around, explore things, ideas, examples, meet people, and listen to speeches. They will cover a wide range of topics to suit the individual interest of the participants. These topics will be on environment, water, healthcare, microfinance technology, sport, youth, as well as art & culture. There will be interesting workshops in creative formats to familiarize the participants with various expressions of social consciousness. There will be programs for young people, academics, as well as the senior citizens.

What does the Super HappYYness Festival mean to you? Is it something special to you?

Muhammad Yunus: Of course. It is very special to me. I have been looking forward to it for the past months.

I have been questioning myself: Are we on the right path? Do the people see it the way I see it? If not, what makes them see it differently? How is it different? Can we create a new civilization before it is too late? Can we save the planet from impending disaster? How to make the world turn around fast? We have only a decade or two left. The most frustrating part of the work is that the urgency of the matter is completely missed. But it can´t go on like this. On the Super HappYYness Festival we have to create the will, energy, and blueprint to create the framework of a new civilization in ten years. We cannot afford more time. The Festival takes place at the beginning of a crucial decade, 2020 to 2030. This may be the most critical decade for the world. Ultimately, it is a matter of will. If we feel desperate, we’ll make it happen. Nothing is impossible for human beings. So let us get together in Munich on June 26-29, 2020, and make impossible possible.