In the space of six months, CSU Channel Islands has now played host to perhaps the two biggest names in the field of social business, the philosophy that says investing money can do more for the world than giving it away.
Hans Reitz was on campus Aug. 26 to teach a seminar on social business, six months to the day after his business partner, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, visited for the launch of CSUCI’s social business program. Reitz is one of Yunus’ chief advisors and the CEO of Grameen Creative Lab, a spinoff of Yunus’ Grameen Bank.
In an interview before the all-day session began, Reitz said social business goes far beyond microcredit — a model Yunus is credited with starting in the 1970s when he loaned a total of $27 to 42 poor Bangladeshi women who used the money to make bamboo furniture.
As social business spreads throughout the United States and the rest of the developed world, it adapts to take on that world’s problems, Reitz said.
“Microcredit was invented by Professor Yunus to solve a problem, and there are always problems,” Reitz said. “Right now green business is a prime area for social business.”
The Aug. 26 seminar was open to both CSUCI students and people from the outside the university. The attendees included some of the region’s business and nonprofit leaders, such as Bonnie Weigel, the president and CEO of the Ventura County food bank Food Share.
“We work with the same skills as a business,” Reitz said. “It’s a just a little different thinking. … The textbooks tell us there is only one way of doing businesses, but we need another way.”