I am currently at the EO Amsterdam University, which is a 5 day conference packed with amazing speakers (even 2 Nobel Prize Winners), incredible, fun loving, successful entrepreneurs and exciting activities and venues. One of the most interesting things we’ve done is take a canal ride through the city, making our way through the canal system and on to dinner, where we wore Dutch Clogs. The really cool thing about this conference, though, is that it’s centered on changing the world and how each of us can do our part to make a difference. The only thing stopping us is our own self imposed limitations.
Before I go any further, I first want to send out a thank you to those of you who sent me email, texts and Facebook messages about my 9/11 experience. Your thoughts were very heartfelt and appreciated. Something I wanted to add to my story is that the following day I rented a car and drove to Rochester, NY to see my family. I arrived about 30 minutes after my brother Mark delivered his 3rd daughter Ava. After witnessing so much death and destruction, it was incredibly uplifting to walk into the hospital room and be greeted by my entire family, including the latest addition, baby Ava. Happy Birthday Ava, and thank you for spreading so much light on all our lives!
Now back to change. I’ve talked a lot about the social aspects of entrepreneurialism, how to approach change and make a positive difference, both personally and professionally. What we’ve done at the conference is break out into groups to do some creative brainstorming with creative specialists, which proved to be a very stimulating and educational process. We focused on what brings about change in our lives and what experiences we’ve had that caused major change to take place. We then discussed what kind of change we would like to see for future generations.
On the topic of change, Dr. Muhammad Yunus spoke to us about change that benefits and empowers poor people around the world. Yunus is founder of the Grameen movement and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He’d heard some years back about people in Bangladesh working with loan sharks in order to purchase things needed to run their businesses and just survive. The loan sharks were charging interest as high as 1500%. Yunus went to Bangladesh and pulled together a group of business owners. When he asked them the total that they had borrowed, combined it came out to be the equivalent of around $43. He proceeded to loan them the money to repay the loan sharks at no interest.
Once they all paid him back, he gathered others to help raise money to loan the people, who continued to repay him around 98% of what he’d lent. This was the catalyst that started the Grameen Movement that has raised millions of dollars to be lent to thousands of people as they seek to change and better their own lives.
You might recall my mentioning a desire to start a microfinance opportunity in Pondicherry, India where Efficience has our software development office. I spoke to Dr. Yunus, who gave me his card and offered to help me. If you’re seeking something, the universe might just put the right people in your path to help you, so keep your eyes peeled.
I will use this opportunity to do my part and try to create a positive change in the world, to try and help others have better opportunities and hopefully better lives.
How are you changing the world?