Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus on Sunday delivered the keynote speech at the International Islamic Finance Forum being held in Dubai, becoming the first Nobel Laureate to address the burgeoning finance sector.
Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006, is headlining the opening of the forum with a special-day session on the role of Islamic finance and mircofinance.
"It is the first timea a Nobel Laureate has presented a keynote speech at an Islamic finance forum," said Rushdi Siddiqui, global director of Dow Jones Islamic Indexes in introducing Yunus.
"[He will address] the question of questions facing many in the industry - how is CSR social responsibility defined by Islamic banks? Islamic finance today is Sharia-compliant but to make it Sharia-based will be the main challenge."
Yunus first became involved with poverty reduction in Bangladesh after observing that very small loans could make a critical difference to a poor person. In 2006, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, together with Grameen Bank, the bank he founded and is Managing Director of.
He is headlining the IIFF, which runs in Dubai from April 13-17, and is being held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
In his first address, Yunus said the consequences of the turmoil in credit markets represented an opportunity for the global finance sector to consider its current rules and regulation.
"It is a good time to reflect on what a bank is and does," said Yunus, speaking to a packed-audience of delegates in Dubai.
"If I were to ask for a billion dollars for a good global cause, there would be a lot of uproar - but a trillion dollars down the drain, everyone off still playing golf, and not a word spoken."
He also advised corporations and business in general to contribute more of their CSR funds to 'social businesses', non-profit driven businesses for the good of society,"Usually most businesses have someone in charge of CSR, who sponsors a cricket match or exhibition," said Yunus. "But if you create a social business out of CSR, then everyone can benefit."
Yunus will be addressing delegates later in the day in a special round-table on Islamic microfinance and more methods on how corporations and business can help the poor.
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