|Towards Creating a Poverty-Free World (UNESCO, 1995, 12 p.)|
The engine of the capitalist system is supposed to be fueled by greed to keep the system moving. I feel that this is a wrong assumption which has led the world to a self-fulfilling prophesy. We must envision a world which has not only greedy people, but also people with strong feelings for their fellow human beings. In this new vision of the capitalist world, instead of one motivating factor - Greed - to keep it in motion, we can introduce social consciousness or social dreams as another motivating factor. Both types of people can be in the same market place, using the same tools and concepts of capitalism but pursuing completely different goals.
An individual citizen or a group of citizens can organize an enterprise motivated completely or partially by social dreams. Grameen Bank itself is an example of social-consciousness-driven (SCD) enterprise. There can be SCD enterprises for profit and also not-for-profit. NGOs organized on commercial basis will be examples of SCD enterprises.
All state-run agencies can be converted into SCD enterprises. In some cases where income from the enterprise may not meet the total expenditure of the enterprise because of the very nature of the work done (such as research institutions, training institutes) government may enter into contracts with them and make annual payments for rendering special services to the society.
Wherever the greed-based private investor is not moving forward on its own, or behaving against the interest of the people, new SCD enterprises can be created.
FAO, multilateral and bilateral donor agencies now can gradually move away from suporting the creation of state-run agencies to SCD run enterprises. NGOs can be encouraged, enterprising persons with social-consciousness can be motivated to create SCD commercial organizations. FAO may particularly support SCD organizations aimed at poverty alleviation, empowerment of the poor women, organizing people to protect environment, replacing chemical fertilizer by bio-fertilizer, replacing insecticides, recycling Waste to become environment-friendly inputs for production.
The world has enormous potential to feed people, but only if we use our resources in the right way. Can anyone really certify that what we are doing now is the right way?
FAO and the member nations can achieve the objectives of removing hunger and poverty from the world in a much more effective way by working through civil organizations, NGOs and SCD enterprises instead of trying to achieve these through creating government agencies and para-statals. At present NGOs are associated with many of the activities of the UN organizations. But this association comes mostly as after-thoughts or to serve decorative functions. This partnership can be much more substantive than what has been explored so far.
Grameen has created several SCD enterprises. Two of them are particularly relevant in this discussion. One is the Grameen Agricultural Foundation, other one is Grameen Fisheries Foundation. We see exciting possibilities of increasing agricultural production and income, enhancing the capacity of the soil, undertaking integrated farming through commercial intervention. All actors here play their roles on capitalist principles while Grameen Foundations are trying to achieve some social goals along with commercial success.