What happens when two passionate, like-minded philanthropists get together? They discuss how to change the world, of course! And, this is exactly what happened when Vijay Eswaran and Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus met for the first time on February 22 in Singapore.
Professor Yunus was in town to speak at a Social Business forum organised by the National University of Singapore. His whirlwind 3-day trip was filled with meetings, interviews and business lunches but he took time out for a special meeting with Vijay.
During the meeting, it was evident that Vijay and Professor Yunus had one thing in common – their belief that the power of change lies in the hands of today’s youth. Vijay, through QNet, has empowered millions of youth around the world to take control of their careers and lives. Similarly, Professor Yunus hopes to reach out to youths and inspire them to make the world a better place.
Professor Yunus took a special interest in QI’s recently-established Quest International University Perak (QIUP) in Malaysia. A project close to his heart, he views it as his opportunity to positively impact the lives of youths by empowering them with a world-class education.
An entrepreneur himself, having founded microlending institution Grameen Bank, Professor Yunus also admired Vijay’s efforts in marrying business and their potential to do good. Throughout his career, Professor Yunus has ventured into many social businesses and recognises their role in addressing society’s pressing issues. For instance, through Grameen Shakti, more than 225,000 homes in Bangladesh were installed with Solar Home systems. These electricity-saving panels are not only good for the environment but helped create green jobs for Bangladeshis.
However, most importantly, this meeting was the beginning of a partnership for good. Professor Yunus and Vijay have achieved a lot on their own, but learning about each other inspired them to ask themselves, “How could we work together to make a difference?”
The interest and commonality generated by the two distinguished guests concluded only when the awaiting press had to rush in, and Professor Yunus’ Director had to leave for the airport! However, it did not stop Professor Yunus gladly signing a special copy of his book and presenting it to Vijay. Vijay reciprocated by presenting Professor Yunus with a copy of his book, the Sphere of Silence. Aside from this special meeting, the event served as an excellent opportunity for Vijay to meet and network with Professor Wong Poh Kam, Director, NUS Business School and Professor (by courtesy) of the NUS Engineering School & LKY School of Public Policy.