Global Social Business Summit 2015: The journey towards three zeros

Shazeeb M Khairul Islam is a One Young World Ambassador from Bangladesh and is also the Coordinating Ambassador for Asia 1. He is the Founder of Social Business Youth Alliance Global, with the backing of Professor Muhammad Yunus

The 7th Global Social Business Summit (GSBS) was held on 4 -7 November, 2015 in Berlin. The annual Summit offers a platform for entrepreneurs to start leading with creativity, compassion and selflessness to solve pressing social problems. Since its creation in 2009 by One Young World Counsellors, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and Hans Reitz, the GSBS has taken place in a range of locations, from Germany and Austria to Malaysia and Mexico.

The GSBS is organised by the Grameen Creative Lab and the Yunus Centre, a worldwide leading forum for social businesses, non-loss and non-dividend companies with social goals. This year’s summit brought more than 800 delegates from 70 different countries, leading global speakers, experts from the private sector, civil society, governments, young entrepreneurs, students and academics together for five days of meetings, forums and workshops. As well as the main conference, the GSBS programme included the Young Challengers Meeting, Academia Conference and Social Creativity Education, a special task force for refugee issues. This year’s summit reached new heights because of its special focus on generating social business solutions for the refugee crisis.

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I attended the Young Challengers Meeting which took place two days before the main conference and included a field visit to local social businesses and a full day gathering of all the Young Challengers, where we redesigned our existing social businesses and designed new social businesses to address the refugee crisis. This meeting was hosted by The YY Foundation and supported by Social Entrepreneurship Akademie, One Young World and Kawa. This meeting was a unique opportunity for 60 young minds to learn about social business, meet peers, network and learn from the CEOs of the Grameen social businesses. I was very honoured to be asked to speak at the meeting about my own social business, Social Business Youth Alliance Global. My fellow One Young World Ambassador, Ceclia Chapiro, the Co-Founder of mentoring platform Yunus&Youth was also asked to speak. 

GSBS 2015 kicked off with a public Opening Ceremony and networking event on 4 November. Hans Reitz, the Co-Founder of The Grameen Creative Lab, and Lamiya Morshed, the Executive Director of the Yunus Centre, welcomed all the delegates. Unfortunately, Professor Muhammad Yunus could not make it to the summit due to illness. During his video message, Professor Yunus said that “there should be no time for disappointment, because I am more than convinced that you will make this Summit a remarkable gathering”. His speech discussed the ways in which social business can be used as an effective tool to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to bring about the three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emission.

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The following two days of the summit were full of panel discussions, parallel sessions, focus groups, workshops and networking events. Kate Robertson, the Co-Founder of One Young World and Thomas Gass, the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA, made two bold presentations on the state of the world. During her speech, Kate Robertson highlighted Climate Change, Global Warming and the need for action at COP21 in Paris next month.  GSBS 2015 also featured more than 50 inspiring social business leaders from the global social business community and many promising young social entrepreneurs, such as One Young World Ambassador, Ludovic De Gromard, the Founder of Y Generation Education). 

25 different social businesses were showcased in the entrepreneurs’ exhibition space and the participants added great value and creativity to the event. During GSBS 2015, Refugee Action Tank led by One Young World Counsellor and Former NASA Astronaut, Ron Garan, brought together 51 participants who generated countless ideas, including eight specific social business projects which were presented at the event.  The GSBS 2015 ended with high hopes and China has been declared as the next GSBS host country.