Global Social Business Summit 2011 in Vienna, Austria

Monica Islam, being one of the winners of the Social Business Essay Competition 2011 in Bangladesh, was sponsored and invited to attend the Global Social Business Summit 2011 in Vienna, Austria, from November 9th – November 13th, 2011. As a dedicated Actioneer, she shares some of her experiences and lessons with us.

Vienna, Austria… a place of architectural beauty

AND the location for Global Social Business Summit 2011 and 2012

Global Social Business Summit aims to convene worldwide social business pioneers from corporate, political, academic, and civil societal background to share results, develop goals, and initiate new projects on the social business frontier.

Hans Reitz, Head of Global Social Business Summit and Co-founder and Managing Director of the Grameen Creative Lab in Germany, reveals the theme of this year’s Summit – Yunus and Youth – YY! The gigantic model YY represents this theme. It is believed that the energy of youths and their creative power can make Millennium Development Goals a reality.


This mural of Prof. Yunus was right there at the venue of the Summit.

“When crisis is deepest, opportunity is deepest.” – Prof. Yunus. With that optimism, Prof. Yunus coined a selfless concept – the concept of social business.

A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective. It must strive to make a profit to expand the business, improve its product or service, or subsidize the social mission. It has a social rather than financial objective. Success is measured in terms of the no. of people impacted.

The book “Building Social Business” by Prof. Yunus is a must-read!

Ever found yourself questioning the reason behind your existence, the reason behind your endless studies and hard work? This photo could give you an answer. A primary motivation of your life should be to bring these people out of hardship. Therefore, when you feel like quitting, remember these people and work hard for them.

This photo was part of UNITAID’s presentation at the Summit.

Ron Garan, NASA astronaut and Founder of Fragile Oasis (

“It is very difficult to look at our beautiful Earth from space without being moved in some way. One of the main goals of Fragile Oasis is to share this orbital perspective and inspire people to go out and make a difference; to go out and somehow make life better for those with whom they share this fragile oasis,” he said.

Along with him on his space mission, he carried the book – Creating a World without Poverty – by Prof. Yunus.

“Every person can be an entrepreneur.Social business is a hope, a dream on the basis that every individual has enormous capacity.” – Prof. Yunus

We can solve many problems collectively. The least we could do is to share the grief of others and to provide a shoulder for others to lean on.

This photo was taken after the disastrous tsunami in Japan. Prof. Masaharu Okada, Professor at Kyushu University in Japan, shared this photo during his presentation at the Summit.

TEDx Vienna organized a TEDx event on social business at Grand Hotel Wien.

You can watch the whole event:

Part 1

Part 2

The photo says it all…

Sava Dalbokov, former CEO of Erste Bank Serbia and good.bee Holding and now member of the Management Board at Steiermärkische Sparkasse, shared this photo during his talk at the TEDx event.

Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption, gender inequality, child mortality, incurable diseases, environmental degradation, and lack of a robust global partnership for development… How can we ever fight and defeat these vices?

This gorgeous, intricate logo was created by a mentally and physically challenged individual. This depicts the enormous creativity that every person possesses. This also disproves the popular notion that being physically or mentally challenged is a permanent disability.

“We need to have fundamental faith in people with unlimited capacity. On one side, we have enormous problems and on the other side, we have human capability. Who will be the winner? Human capability is so unlimited that we can conquer problems if we wish to.” – Prof. Yunus.

Prof. Masaharu Okada, Professor at Kyushu University in Japan, shared this photo during his talk at the TEDx event.

In conclusion, being able to attend the Global Social Business Summit 2011 was one of the best experiences of my life. Meeting new people, brainstorming, sight-seeing, and gaining knowledge on social business were the best things that could ever happen to me. A lot of these lessons and experiences will stay with me forever and contribute to my overall self-development. I do hope that by sharing my experiences, I have successfully inspired others to participate in the next Social Business Competition in Bangladesh and most importantly, to make this world a better place through business(which is usually linked with aggressive profit-making practices at the expense of societal well-being) and through other selfless acts.

A detailed documentation on the various workshops is available for download here.

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2 Responses to Global Social Business Summit 2011 in Vienna, Austria

  1. Ridwan says:

    What an experience!!! :D

    • Monica Islam says:

      Yes, it truly was a memorable experience with all the knowledge that I have gained, friends that I have made, and inspiring personalities that I have met!

      I do wish every one has similar experiences through various platforms.

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