Higher Education

Higher Education

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus signs agreement with Becker College

This article was originally published in University Business.

Becker College announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus to establish the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College. The MoU was signed on May 28, 2015, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at the 6th annual Social Business Day, by Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., and Prof. Yunus.

Becker College is one of a handful of higher education institutions in the world—and the first in the United States—to establish an officially sanctioned Yunus Social Business Centre. The College’s Centre will focus on identifying real-world social problems, creating innovative, self-sustaining solutions to transform lives and communities.

"We are delighted to designate Becker College as the first Yunus Social Business Centre in the United States,” said Lamiya Morshed, Executive Director of the Yunus Centre and Grameen Healthcare Trust. “We look forward to working with Becker College as a global leader in the social business movement."

David Jordan, DHA, MPA, President and CEO of Seven Hills Foundation, and a member of the Becker College Board of Trustees, also traveled to Dhaka to attend. The Seven Hills Foundation will serve as a partner in this initiative.

“The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College complements our mission and vision, and expands the global concept of education we provide,” said Johnson. “We believe in Yunus’ approach to social business because business is uniquely positioned to address need, create value, and drive profit which, in turn, can expand the reach, impact, and sustainability of the solution. Professor Yunus believes this approach of applying business to social problems is more scaleable and resilient than any other strategy.”

“At Becker, we share this vision. Our students are value creators. They solve problems with an entrepreneurial mindset. Our goal is to provide students with the skills to take real-world problems and create self-sustaining businesses that have social impact, create jobs, and spur economic development,” said Johnson. “Our new Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be the locus for supporting experiential and service learning to educate a new generation about the importance of social business.”

Prof. Yunus pioneered the concept of social business, utilizing micro-finance to help the world’s poor develop self-sustainable businesses. He has been recognized with more than 100 awards from 26 countries, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. In 2012, Fortune magazine named him one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of all time.

“The Seven Hills Foundation will be a critical partner in expanding the reach of Becker to provide opportunities to our students throughout the world,” said Johnson. The Seven Hills Foundation currently works in eight developing nations.

Jordan, who was recently named Professor of Practice in Social Innovation at Becker, said, “This vital Centre will enable us to bring students and faculty from Becker directly to our project sites in Bangladesh, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya, Haiti, Guatemala, and Jamaica, to effect positive and self-sustainable change. Our goal will be to spread the philosophy of social business to field partners of the Seven Hills Foundation and Becker College in developing nations.”

The establishment of the new Centre at Becker College will, according to Johnson, “provide a critical foundation for educating our students in solving complex social problems and creating new value in the global economy. It will help build social business entrepreneurs who can transform lives and communities.” Additionally, it will serve as a center of excellence for college and university students throughout New England and as a resource for teaching faculty, business leaders, and the general public.

“Colleges and universities play an important role growing the social business movement, generating knowledge and ideas as they educate younger generations about the critical impact social business has in a global society,” said Yunus. “Becker College is emerging as one of the most innovative and socially progressive institutions of higher learning in the United States, guided by its focus on global citizenship education, social innovation, and personal responsibility toward advancing the various sectors of the world economy.”

Robert Johnson