The Yunus Foundation – Creating the “Poor People's Bank” in Taiwan
Before Philippa Tsai worked for the Yunus Foundation, she was an important member of the Rotary Club’s Taipei 3480 District Branch. One day, while organizing a conference for the Rotary Club, her friend asked her if she had ever heard of Dr. Muhammad Yunus – a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
“My friend really wanted to invite him to Taiwan to be a keynote speaker at this forum.” Philippa remembers. “We must have written him about 100 emails to convince him to come to Taiwan – but eventually, it worked!”
When Dr. Yunus came to Taiwan in 2014, Philippa was inspired by his talk – so much so, she later told him that she wanted to set up Taiwan’s first chapter of the Yunus Foundation in Taipei.
“That’s how the foundation actually got set up.” She laughs. “We found 108 sponsors – mostly big private companies – and I became the first Chairwoman of the Foundation’s board. Of course, Dr. Yunus was our first consultant.”
Since then, the Yunus Foundation of Taiwan has been keeping busy - founding two Taiwanese agricultural social enterprises (King Fruit and Fangzhou), exploring the development of a Grameen Trust Bank in Kaohsiung, and opening eight Yunus Social Business Centers (YSBCs) in universities across Taiwan in just four years.
“Currently, we are looking for shareholders to invest in people who want to be social entrepreneurs.” Philippa says. “Dr. Yunus’ strategy of helping young people fund their own social enterprises is key to achieving our goal – which is to put poverty in the museum throughout the world by 2030.”
Having recently established an office in the INGO Center in Guangfu Village, Philippa says bringing the Yunus Foundation of Taiwan to this historic part of Taichung has had many benefits.
“Establishing an office in the INGO Center has meant we have gained many more connections with local organizations. We now have more resources, and a much larger network of people to connect with.” She explains.
“Recently, we had a social enterprise forum on December 26th, and invited many local NGOs and organizations – which we would not have met without joining the INGO Center!”