EN interviewed Lucie Durand, Director – Head of Unusual Partners at Yunus Social Business (YSB), to learn more about the organisation and what motivated YSB to join the Network. Lucie has 8 years of experience in initiating and implementing inclusive business projects, particularly on health-related issues (nutrition, access to safe water, access to vision) and more recently on social procurement.
Why Yunus Social Business?
YSB was co-founded 11 years ago, in Germany, by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Saskia Bruysten, and Sophie Eisemann, with the goal of globally expanding Prof. Yunus’ social business success in Bangladesh. The organisation was initiated to fill the social businesses’ funding gap created by the mainstream banking system. Yunus Social Business operates in two fronts:
1) Yunus Funds transforms donations into investments in social businesses, which are reinvested repeatedly, multiplying the impact each time. YSB has established five national impact funds with the express purpose of solving societal issues, particularly in global southern nations where social businesses face further challenges in accessing loans. Due to the location of these impact funds, loans have been primarily directed toward addressing water access and sanitation, agriculture, and energy issues. Presently, YSB has a portfolio of 50 social businesses benefiting from this funding. Besides access to loans, the organisation provides these businesses with acceleration and non-financial support.
2) Yunus Corporate was created 7 years ago, as corporations began to show interest in developing their own social business value. YSB started building social ventures and supporting traditional companies in building their own social business – creating the first corporate social businesses. Today, more and more companies approaching YSB not only want to create corporate social businesses, but they also recognize the need to transform their core business and practices to become more aligned with social business’ values.
Social Procurement – a catalyst for social businesses
In collaboration with Euclid Network, SAP, WEF Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship and Agora Partnership, YSB co-designed a program dedicated to support companies to start selecting social enterprises as their direct suppliers for products or services.
YSB developed the Unusual Partners program in 2022, with now three main axes:
1) Awareness and capacity-building for procurement managers to understand the topic of social procurement and how to implement it (through webinars, an online course and a 3-month Academy program);
2) Suppliers scouting and match-making where YSB partners with national organisations (including in Europe but also in the Global South) to identify potential suppliers for companies and evaluate them against impact and business criteria;
3) Supplier Support and Acceleration program where YSB brings support to social enterprises to become corporate-ready, either for a specific corporate client or with an industry focus (such as Textile or Recycled Plastics), combining match-making, acceleration and funding. This part of Unusual Partners is new and will be developed in 2023.
Social business is business as unusual, and we want to make it the norm.
Why join Euclid Network (EN)?
YSB is one of the drivers of the international and European agenda on social procurement. EN’s active participation and existing partnerships with multiple organisations in the public and private sectors, made becoming an EN member a clear choice for this organisation.
Euclid Network’s collaborations with other European organisations will be fundamental to us for years to come, as well as having our program represented by the organisation.