Feb 18, 2013

Speakers' materials now available

By clicking on THIS SLIDESHARE LINK you will find all the presentations (6) and documents (6) uploaded in relation to the conference. 

Enjoy reading and do not hesitate to contact the speakers for further information. 

Nov 30, 2012

Thank you for the successful workshop

Fully booked, the international workshop of 'Buddhist Values in Business and its Potential for Europe' was successfully organised in Brussels, Belgium on 24-25 November 2012.

Partly inspired by Bhutan's Gross National Happiness, the workshop attracted 40 people from business, public, religious and academic organisations - Buddhist and non-BuddhistParticipants from outside of Europe were also welcomed.  Their active participation and open-mindedness made the event a real success to be continued...

Our objectives were to:
  • explore, discuss and agree on key characteristics of profitable business enterprises aligned with Buddhist inspired values;
  • discuss business models to support the development of such enterprises in Europe;
  • explore Gross National Happiness, its relation to Buddhism, and implications for business management;
  • put the idea/culture of Buddhist inspired Business Management on the public agenda,
  • create an informal working group to advance the agenda of Buddhist inspired values in entrepreneurship.
Experts and practitioners who inspired, contributed or facilitated at the workshop:
  • Dasho Karma Ura, President, Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu, Bhutan who is one of the key architects behind Gross National Happiness
  • Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai, Director, Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University Budapest and founder of Buddhist Economics Research Platform
  • Dr. Karma Phuntsho, Research Associate in Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge and Founding Director of the Loden Foundation in Bhutan that supports social enterprises
  • Joel Magnuson, Ph.D., professor of economics in Portland, Oregon, USA. Internationally recognized economist specializing in non-orthodox approaches to political economy.
  • Bart Weetjens, awards winning social entrepreneur and Zen Buddhist teacher, APOPO, Tanzania
  • Dharmachari Keturaja, managing director of Windhorse:evolution which is one of the leading suppliers of giftware in the UK based on values derived from the Buddha’s teachings.
  • Zoltan Valcsicsak, founder of The Social Profit Maker and founding president of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society

Main organisers:
Key partners:
Sponsors and supporters:
Loden Foundation | Starwoods Hotels

Thank you for all who made this event a success !

Read the speakers' presentations HERE.

Nov 23, 2012

President Barroso welcomes our workshop

Dear Members and Friends of the European Buddhist Union, 

Over many years, the European Commission has engaged in a close dialogue with religious organisations across Europe. Following the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, the dialogue with churches, religions as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations in Europe is now enshrined in primary law. 

Let me assure you that I attach great personal importance to this dialogue. Religions play an important role in the lives of many European citizens, both in sustaining their spiritual well being and supporting them during these times of economic and social change. I appreciate the involvement of the European Buddhist Union in this dialogue through their participation in meeting and through discussing important European policy issues with their members.

This is a defining time for Europe. This moment requires decisions and leadership not only from European institutions and Governments, but from the European business community too. 

I trust that the ''Buddhist Values in Business and its Potential for Europe'' seminar will raise awareness in the business community of the need for high levels of social cohesion, respect for human rights, human dignity, equality between men and women, and respect for our environment.
With every best wish for a constructive and fruitful seminar.

Best regards,
José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission

Fundamental transformation needed in our economy

Joel Magnuson, Ph.D. is one of our renowned speakers. He is an independent economist based in Portland, Oregon, USA. He is a visiting fellow at the Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, serves as an international advisor to Anglia’s journal, Interconnections, and is on the faculty at the East West Sanctuary in Nagykovácsi, Hungary. He is the author of Mindful Economics: How the US Economy Works, Why It Matters, and How It Could Be Different (Seven Stories Press, 2008) as well numerous articles in journals and anthologies in the US, Europe, and Japan. 

In this short introductory interview, Joel is also talking about his forthcoming book: The Approaching Great Transformation: Creating a New Commonwealth for the End of the Oil Age (Seven Stories Press, 2013).

What does Buddhist Economy mean to you?

Joel: I will be talking about the material in my forthcoming book, The Approaching Great Transformation, in which I attempt to make a case for a fundamental transformation in our economic institutions. I am focusing primarily on the US economy, but I believe my arguments could also apply to Europe and elsewhere. Buddhism in general, and mindfulness specifically, can serve as both a philosophical basis for building new economic institutions as well as a practical guide for better, more wholesome ways of acting in the world economically.

How Buddhist Economy provides an alternative to our current economic system?

Joel: Again, I am primarily speaking about the US economy, but I believe that our most powerful economic institutions--the market system, financial institutions, and corporate institutions--are badly captured by what Buddhists refer to as the Three Defilements: Greed, Aggression, and Delusion. A true Buddhist practice can serve as an instrument to work against these defilements and help us rebuild our economic institutions in profoundly different and better ways.

What will you focus on in your talk at the workshop?

Joel: Based on my new book, I will be placing the need for institutional transformation in the context of global warming (Hurricane Sandy) and peak oil. Much of this is about economic re-localization, but based on a foundation of new models, new institutions, different values, and different ways of seeing the world.

Thank you. We are looking forward to hearing more from you soon.

Nov 19, 2012

Gross National Happiness, Buddhism and Business

Dasho Karma Ura is a renowned expert from Bhutan who agreed to contribute to our workshop online. He is the president of Centre for Bhutan Studies and key architect behind Gross National Happiness (GNH). This is a short extract from an exclusive interview made with him in Bhutan about Buddhism, Business and GNH. The full interview will be showcased at the workshop.

The 'Short Guide to Gross National Happiness Index' can be downloaded HERE.

Nov 16, 2012

Introducing Bodhisattva entrepreneurship

Dr Karma Phuntsho is one of our speakers from Bhutan. Over a decade ago, he started the Loden Foundation in his home country which supports young social entrepreneurs and it is also the main sponsor of our workshop. 

In this recent interview on Bhutan's national television channel, he is talking about his personal journey from being a monk in Bhutan and India to become a student in Oxford and then a research associate in Cambridge. Apart from speaking about various Buddhist concepts, he is also introducing Loden's entrepreneurship program and the philosophy behind it, what he calls the 'Bodhisattva entrepreneurship'. 

The interview serves as excellent background and prelude to his upcoming talk at the workshop on 24th November.

Oct 23, 2012

Being a social entrepreneur and a Buddhist monk

Bart Weetjens, a Belgian national, is a social entrepreneur and zen Buddhist monk based in Tanzania. At the workshop, Bart will talk about his unique experiences in trying to align the inner and the outer worlds within a business operation. Reading this interview, you can get introduced to some of his interesting thoughts and ideas.

What is the key objective of your business?
Bart: We train rats to save lives! To read more, visit wwww.apopo.org

Some people argue that Buddhism and Business should be separated. What is your take on that?
Bart: I have no hard opinion on this. I think that Buddhism and Business are indeed very different things, but I do not think that they should be separated at all. In contrary, I think that Buddhism can be a great source of inspiration to a fairer, more respectful mode of business which can improve the state of the world. The magic is that it is in the potential of every person, no matter what their background is, or whatever their position in a company or organization, to live this inspiring practice and externalize it in their lives, and thus also in their working environment. So this doesn't limit itself to the right livelihood, only one aspect of the eightfold path. Of course, it is easier to implement Buddhist values if you are in a strategic executive position, or if you, like in my case, start your own initiative as an expression of your practice. But in our Sangha I hear a lot of people witnessing the liberating aspect of their practice in their working environment. I think this liberating aspect is particularly important, but again it puts the emphasis on the inner spiritual life of the practitioner, not so much on the modus operandi of an organization or company. The Japanese founder of SOTO Zen school, master Dogen, described the resonance between the inner and the outer world, and as I continue practicing over the years I experience more and more that it is to the extend that our inner world is in harmony with the Way that the outer world resonates with this and automatically, naturally phenomena harmonize. To me that is really key, because it is there that the 'change' has to start, and it is wonderful that we have that opportunity for change every moment again. 

Your business is based in a non-Buddhist country. Has it been a challenge? Wouldn't it be easier to operate in a Buddhist country like Thailand?
Bart: We also have operations in Thailand, not because it is a Buddhist country, but primarily because of the suspected minefields on all of its borders. Our operational headquarters are situated in Tanzania, which is not a Buddhist country (it is mixed 35% Islamic, 35% Christian, and 30% animist).
I am not necessarily convinced that it would have been easier or success would have been guaranteed when establishing in a Buddhist country. Some cultural aspects would have been taken for granted for sure. But Buddhism historically has adapted to different cultures, and though on the African continent there is a very limited exposure to various Buddhist schools and their practices, I am convinced that there is a huge potential for Buddhism in Africa, which is based on the experience I had with the zen group in Tanzania. Initially, I was the only zen practitioner in Tanzania, but then some folks started sitting with me, and I started teaching zazen in the Theravada temple in Dar Es Salaam. Currently we are over 20 people there sitting together on a regular base, and that simply grew organically, most of them Tanzanian nationals, so there is definitely potential. 

What are the key Buddhist values you have tried to integrate into the business operation of APOPO?
Bart: Clearly, the basic value motivating the mission of APOPO is one of compassion, a wish to help vulnerable populations help themselves. Starting from the observation of social and economical injustice, cultivating compassion 'hands-on', becomes a cure for the ego and in the same time source of social and environmental responsibility. In the case of APOPO, it was the observation that vulnerable populations in Africa depend on expensive imported know-how and technology to tackle the landmine threat, which provided the spark for social commitment. I would like to stress on the aspect of empathy, as an essential building stone to enable later development of compassion, which is why it is so crucial that our children learn to master empathy at a very early age in a caring environment.

I often refer to the heart sutra which describes how Kanon, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara or bodhisattva of compassion, through a deep understanding of impermanence and interdependence, interacts with the world with an ego-less attitude helping others to help themselves. The bodhisattva helps him/herself and others alike to cross the river of samsara, our world conditioned by greed, hatred and ignorance, which make us suffer, and reach the shores of nirvana, a state without suffering. The bodhisattva is liberated, and uses all kinds of skillful means to help others help themselves. The bodhisattva practices the paramita's, or Buddhist virtues, values, often referred to as perfections: generosity, moral discipline, patience, energy or effort, attention and wisdom. 

Even if these perfections sometimes seem distant in the complex reality we live, they may serve as a compass in all situations, and when sincerely practiced on an individual level in any professional environment, they directly influence the person's thoughts, speech and action, developing a compassionate corporate or organizational culture.

What have been your key challenges?
Bart: On an organizational level, at least in a secular organization/company, it is a bigger challenge to integrate these virtues and implement them into the business processes, simply because in essence they are virtues to be developed on a personal level, internally but in relation with the external world. So it is in this field of relationship with the external world that occurs an enormous challenge, say enormous opportunity!, to crystallize values in the processes. This can be done consciously, but not necessarily so. In the case of APOPO e.g. the early days I wasn't occupied as such with setting up a value-based organization, but rather - as an expression of my practice - naturally made an effort to help those affected by landmines, mostly in remote African villages. Even the choice for rats came natural as I had been breeding them during childhood and knew they were very sociable and intelligent, lovely creatures. To see them as a valuable and sustainable resource rather than a pest is something that came natural to me. In the early days my idea was laughed at a lot, and my main concern was to find people to take it serious, and I found those in Antwerp University professors, which in itself created a secular platform. It took over two years for my proposals to be granted, and the initial grant provided space to attract researchers, a biologist and a product designer. Gradually we provided evidence, built and tested prototypes and developed training protocols, until the technology was validated and accredited in Mozambique in 2004. By then we were an international group of around 20 people, mainly based at Sokoine University in Tanzania. When APOPO was setting up international operations and getting more and more institutionalized, we did a strategic planning exercise with the entire management team, and focussed the value set on 4 core values after countless hours of discussion:

Quality – Demonstrating and promoting high standards in research, design, training and implementation of detection rats technology.
Social Transformation – Developing skills, creating jobs, improving socio-economic and environmental conditions, releasing land for development, and combating public health issues.
Innovation – Pioneering creative research and innovative solutions within a participatory learning culture.
Diversity – Embracing diversity in all facets of the organization with respect to age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities, nationality or ethnicity.

Strikingly, none of these are in the end values specific to Buddhism as such,  they are rather a distillation of value sets from a culturally very diverse team of people with the same humanitarian objectives: empowering vulnerable communities with a locally sourced, appropriate and sustainable technology! 

Are you aware of other businesses in the world that are based on Buddhist principles?
Bart: I know several of them, mostly non-profit organizations. Some of these are highly recognized social enterprises, lead by Buddhist inspired entrepreneurs, like e.g. Kiva in San Francisco, who do online micro-lending. Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva, is also a Zen practitioner. But I don't know many who manage to incorporate or chrystalize Buddhist values all the way through the business processes, HR, etc. as a Buddhist enterprise by way of speaking. I think Bernie Glassman and the Greyston Bakery is a good example of a social enterprise that managed to interweave buddhist principles all along the business operations. Bernie Glassman's greyston mandala is a successful, replicable and scalable model of sustainable urban community development. 

What is the difference/similarity between a social enterprise and a Buddhist business?
One could say that  Buddhist businesses could automatically qualify the (currently trendy) label of a social enterprise. Of course, when acting from the insight of interconnectedness, automatically we act in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. But not all social enterprises are of course Buddhist. Nevertheless we see many social entrepreneurs developing business models which are inspired by their spirituality, or by their religious values. Many social enterprises are driven by practicing Christians, or muslims alike, who manage to translate these religious values in their organizations in various ways, sometimes very direct, like e.g. Taddy Blecher, a 'serial social entrepreneur' in South Africa, who meditates with his staff in the mornings on a daily basis before they start to work. In social entrepreneurs' networks like e.g. Ashoka Innovators for the Public, there are significantly more leading social entrepreneurs driven by a religious practice of some kind, rather than social enterprises lead by agnostics or atheists. 

Oct 8, 2012

Managing a Buddhist business

One of our speakers will be Dharmachari Keturaja, General Manager of Windhorse:evolution in the UK. In this introductory interview, he talks about principles and challenges of their business inspired by Buddhist values:

1. What key Buddhist values do you try to embody within Windhorse:evolution?
D. Keturaja: There are quite a range of Buddhist values that we try to embody within Windhorse:evolution.  Our engagement with some of these has unfolded over the years as the business developed, but there are two key values that have been there right from the start of the business.  Initially the business was set up to raise money for projects within the Triratna Community (then the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order).  So dana (generosity) was a central value that motivated the founders of the business – the altruistic aim of raising funds to establish the infrastructure of a new Buddhist Movement.  We embraced the profit motive (choosing to sell giftware because of the high margin involved), but not for personal wealth creation. The business has always been wholly owned by a charity so that any profit not reinvested in the business is available to give away.  In the first ten years the business struggled to establish itself, but in the 90’s it expanded rapidly and began earning considerable profits.  Amongst other things these profits have been used to help buy several Rural Retreat Centres, Buddhist Community Houses and Urban Buddhist Centres in Europe.  Most recently we helped fund the new ‘Buddhistisches Tor Berlin’, a large urban Buddhist Centre that opened last month.  We also give money to social projects connected with the communities we trade with in the Far East.  In Bali for example we fund a small school for disabled kids.  Ethical Trading is another of our values and we work in partnership with suppliers to improve the conditions of their workers and the communities they come from.

The spirit of dana is not only embodied in the business’s profits being given away but also in the fact that most people in the business make a financial sacrifice to work in the business.  We consciously pay ourselves less than market rates, in order to be able to give away more.  Our wage structure is very flat with the best-paid workers earning less than three times that of the lowest paid.  Further many have adopted a radical type of needs based remuneration, unrelated to the responsibility they take in the business.  This involves taking on to live a relatively simple lifestyle.  Thus the four directors of the business, live in Buddhist communities, and receive remuneration below that of some of our warehouse workers. 

There are many other ways in which the practice of dana, the first of the Boddhistava’s perfections is encouraged within the business.  Of course what makes this practice of generosity particularly Buddhist is when it is taken on within the context of reflection and the embodiment of moving beyond self-reference, and self-clinging – seeing through the illusory nature of self.

This is where the second of the two key aims of the business comes in.  Over time we have seen more and more the value and scope of using the work itself as a spiritual practice.  Working in the business world presents objective challenges – for example we have ourselves reflected back in the response of others.  It is also an arena for observing the karmic consequences of our actions.  In these and in many other ways we have come to realise how useful work can be in our own personal spiritual development.  In order to make use of these opportunities we have discovered that certain supportive conditions are helpful.  We have pioneered an approach we call Team Based Right Livelihood (TBRL) that aims to provide a basis of supportive conditions for spiritual practice.  So for example work teams have regular ‘Right Livelihood Meetings’, in which they study relevant dharma teachings, and there is the opportunity for personal and collective reflection. Within these meetings ethical issues might be looked at, or the practice of mindfulness at work explored.  (Our warehouse team has regular silent mornings where they especially focus on mindful working).  And sometimes people may share personal insights gained from their practice.  We find strong and trusting friendships grow within this context.  

Experimenting in these ways we have found that combined with attending retreats and supportive living situations, work can be part of a whole lifestyle that provides an integrated approach to practicing the Dharma.

2. What have been the key challenges?
D. Keturaja: At different times the business has faced different challenges.  At first financing the business was difficult.  Later when the business grew very rapidly in the 90’s we found it difficult to maintain our ethos with our workforce expanding so quickly.  At the end of the 90’s we consciously decided to slow down our growth so that we could focus on building internal structures that supported communication and staff participation.  The challenge of rapid growth demanded personal change and development, but without time for reflection, and meeting wider personal needs this become unbalanced.  We wanted a business that was sustainable for our staff – with its challenges but not leading to ‘burn-out’.  In the last ten years we have sometimes struggled to attract Buddhist to join the business and chose to employ some non-Buddhists who shared similar values.  Now most of our shops are run by non-Buddhist, while our head office is still mainly Buddhist.  Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in Buddhists wanting to join us.

3. What other Buddhist business do you know of?
D. Keturaja: Within the Triratna Buddhist community there have been a number of experiments in the area of Right livelihood.  There have been several cafes, whole food shops, and gardening business, but many of these have not lasted.  Most recently there have been a number of businesses set up to train teachers in Mindfulness Based Therapies, notably ‘Breathworks’ which is based in Manchester.  In India many in the Triratna Community are involved in education and health projects – in particular running hostels that enable some of the poorest children in India to go to school. 

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a company driven by Buddhist values?
D. Keturaja: The most obvious advantages are those that stem from working with others who share one’s Buddhist values.  We have a common point of reference in our practice of the Dharma and Buddhist ethics.  This makes communication more straightforward.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have our differences but conflicts tend to be resolved quickly and amicably.  With our relatively low wages people don’t join us for personal financial gain!  This means they need to be motivated by our collective vision and this leads to high levels of personal commitment in the business.  

In terms of disadvantages, we have sometimes struggled to find the skilled staff we need within a relatively small pool of Buddhists interest Right livelihood.  This has meant we have probably not been as enterprising and professional as we could have been.

5. What are your key professional goals?
D. Keturaja: Our most immediate goal at Windhorse:evolution is to bring the business back into earning a reasonable profit.  As with many other businesses we have suffered in the current economic crisis.  We have a number of strategies to improve our profitability that we are currently implementing.  As well as insuring the financial success of the business I feel my role is also to oversee and encourage the spiritual vitality of the business.  Fortunately we have several very experienced Buddhist practitioners in the business, and these men and women are very supportive of those working with us.  As well as offering training to newer members of the business, we like to encourage people to find their own ways of making their work a spiritual practice.  I am also very please that we have a growing interest from young men and women wanting to join us and explore TBRL as an arena for their spiritual lives.   

We are also keen to encourage new business ventures inspired by Buddhist values.  Recently we have been supporting a new Residential Letting Agency started as a Buddhist business here in Cambridge.   I would like us to be helping to establish more Buddhist businesses especially those that relate to core human needs, like housing, health and education.

Aug 28, 2012

Why Buddhist Economics?

Leading to our workshop, we aim to introduce concepts, ideas, thoughts of our speakers and participants in our 'News' section. We'll start with this brief interview on Buddhist Economics with Laszlo Zsolnai, one of our speakers in November. He is Professor and Director of Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest and Co-founder of the Buddhist Economics Research Platform.

When did you get introduced to Buddhist Economics?
I studied economics in the late 1970s. I was not ready to accept the basic dogma of modern Western economics that self-interest behaviour serves the common good. I always felt that something is wrong with the “greed is good” position. Reading E.F. Schumacher’s essay on Buddhist economics was liberating for me. It demonstrated that an alternative economic worldview is possible where the main function of economic activities is not to maximize material growth but to create sustainable livelihood for people and communities.      

What does Buddhist Economics mean to you?
Buddhist economics can be seen as a radical alternative to the Western economic mindset. Western economics represents a maximizing framework. It wants to maximize profit, desires, market, instrumental use, and self-interest and tends to build a world where “bigger is better” and “more is more”. Buddhist economics represents a minimizing framework where suffering, desires, violence, instrumental use, and self-interest have to be minimized. This is why “small is beautiful” and “less is more” nicely express the essence of the Buddhist approach to economic questions.

Is it a Western concept or was it originated in Buddhist countries?
I think Buddhist economics is a universal concept. It might be relevant for Buddhist and non-Buddhist countries as well. By reducing desires it can serve as a vehicle for reducing the society’s material metabolism and consequently its ecological footprint. I agree with the Thai Buddhist monk and philosopher, P.A. Payutto that one should not be a Buddhist or an economist to be interested in Buddhist economics. Buddhist ethical principles and their applications in economic life offer a way of being and acting, which can help people to live a more ecological and happier life while contributing to the reduction of human and non-human suffering in the world.  

Is there any country in the world that, at least partly, follows the concept of Buddhist Economics?
Bhutan can be mentioned as an example where Buddhist economics is influencing economic policy. Another example is the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka where thousands of people and hundreds of villages cooperate to develop a “Right livelihood”. In Thailand the Santi Asoke movement are experimenting with self-reliant economic models. Japan’s extremely successful eco-efficiency technologies are influenced by the Buddhist ethics of “not wasting”.      

What has to change in Europe to follow Buddhist Economics principles?
The self-centered way of life, the “greed culture” of Europe and North-America should be changed. The economic crisis of 2008-2010 produced financial losses of billions of USD in the form of poisoned debts, the decline of stock prices and the value depreciation of properties. The prospect of future economic growth supposed to be the guarantor of the indebtedness of households, companies and economies. Today we experience a considerable downscaling of our economies.
The global warming survival guide created by the American weekly magazine, Time,  suggest the following: "There is an older path to reducing our impact on the planet that will feel familiar to Evangelical Christians and Buddhists alike. Live simply. Meditate. Consume less. Think more. Get to know your neighbors. Borrow when you need to and lend when asked. E.F. Schumacher praised that philosophy this way in Small Is Beautiful: Amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfying results." 

What is the link between Buddhist Economics and Gross National Happiness?
The Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a policy framework to realize the main principles of Buddhist economics. GNH can be regarded as the next stage in the evolution of indicators for sustainable development, going beyond merely measuring values that can be expressed in money.
Bhutan’s leaders define GNH in terms of four pillars: economic development, good governance, cultural preservation and nature conservation. The benefit of this model is that it includes both GDP - the ‘lowest’ level bottom line - while complementing it with ‘higher level’ components. Political decisions are made on the basis of trade-offs. For example, when faced with the choice between providing employment versus the preservation of environment, most governments would choose the former. The GNH model shows that this trade-offs should be made in the context of a hierarchy of values. Otherwise policymakers will sacrifice higher level values for lower level ones. 

How do you feel about the UK and French governments considering measuring well-being and happiness of their citizens?
Trying to measure well-being and happiness - instead of simply measuring economic growth - is a good step forward. The Stiglitz & Sen & Fitoussi Report presents an advanced view on sustainability and social well-being. We should not be interested in the well-being or happiness of people only but also in the sustainability of their living. Well-being at the expense of nature and future generations cannot be accepted. At present most of the Western countries exceed their right “earth share” by 250-600 %.  
What are the available resources about Buddhist Economics?
We developed the Buddhist Economics Research Platform which collects the most important contributions in Buddhist Economics. I edited a book on Buddhist economics for Springer which was published in 2011. 

(August 2012)

Aug 8, 2012

Our contributors confirmed

DASHO KARMA URA is president of The Centre for Bhutan Studies in Bhutan which is the forefront in promoting understanding of Bhutan's development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Dasho Karma Ura earned his undergraduate degree at Oxford University and his Masters in Philosophy of Economics from the University of Edinburgh.  He holds numerous international positions, including Associate Editor of International Journal of Asian Business and Information Management; Executive Committee Member of the School of Well-being, Chulalongkorn University, and San Nagarprada Foundation, Thailand; Member of the Chief Economist’s Advisory Panel, South Asia Region, World Bank. He is also a painter and has written several books. Dasho Karma Ura has kindly agreed to provide inspirational input to our workshop via a video interview.

DHARMACHARI KETURAJA is managing director of Windhorse:evolution, a Buddhist business which started over 30 years ago. After studying economics at Manchester University Keturaja was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1991 and joined Windhorse:evolution 26 years ago. Based in Cambridge UK, Windhorse:evolution directly employs over 250 people and its annual turnover of more than 10 million euros makes it one of the leading suppliers of giftware in the UK. The business was principally set up to raise money for projects within the Triratna Buddhist community. As well as having success in this area, there has been an on-going exploration of approaches to making the work itself a spiritual practice and clarifying what it means to be a Buddhist business? 

Dr LOPEN KARMA PHUNTSHO is a Research Associate in Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University. Dr Phuntsho finished full Tibetan Buddhist monastic training in Bhutan and India before he received a M.St. in Classical Indian Religions and D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford. 
His current researches focus on Bhutanese historiography, socio-cultural changes in Bhutan and intervention through education, books and manuscripts in the Buddhist Himalaya and the exploration and preservation of Bhutan’s literary heritage. He frequently lectures on Buddhism and Bhutan and is a leading expert on the country. 
Dr Phuntsho is also founding director of the Loden Foundation that runs a pioneering entrepreneurship program helping young Bhutanese realize their dreams by providing them training, moral and technical support, and initial funds to start new entrepreneurial ventures. 

BART WEETJENS is a successful social entrepreneur and a Zen Buddhist teacher. He initiated the use of trained giant African pouched rats, so-called HeroRATS, as an alternative landmine detector and as an appropriate Tuberculosis screening tool. HeroRATS received multiple international recognitions, a.o. the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Bart has been elected an ASHOKA fellow and a SCHWAB fellow to the World Economic Forum. Born in Belgium, he currently lives with his wife and two daughters in Morogoro, Tanzania. Go to see Bart's TED talk

PROF. LASZLO ZSOLNAI is director of the Business Ethics Center at the Corvinus  University of Budapest and a founder of the Buddhist Economics Research Platform. He is chairman of the Business Ethics Faculty Group of the CEMS (Community of European Management Schools−The Global Alliance in Management Education). He serves as editor of the “Frontier of Business Ethics” book series at Peter Lang Publishers in Oxford. With Luk Bouckaert he founded the European SPES Forum in Leuven, Belgium and he is co-founder of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship SocietyProf. Zsolnai’s research areas include responsible business, ethical decision making, collaborative enterprise, Buddhist economics, and business sustainability. Visit Laszlo's website.

JOEL MAGNUSON, Ph.Dis an independent economist based in Portland, Oregon, USA. He is a visiting fellow at the Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, serves as an international advisor to Anglia’s journal, Interconnections, and is on the faculty at the East West Sanctuary in Nagykovácsi, Hungary. He is the author of Mindful Economics: How the US Economy Works, Why It Matters, and How It Could Be Different (Seven Stories Press, 2008) as well numerous articles in journals and anthologies in the US, Europe, and Japan. His forthcoming book is The Approaching Great Transformation: Creating a New Commonwealth for the End of the Oil Age (Seven Stories Press, 2013). Go to Joel's blog: The Mindful Economist

ZOLTAN VALCSICSAK is international practitioner and advisor in Corporate Social Responsibility  dividing his time between Bhutan, Brussels and Budapest. After having spent 12 years at Levi Strauss designing and managing social and environmental programs in Europe, Middle East and Africa, he established The Social Profit Maker in Brussels that engages and transforms businesses and nonprofits to increase their social profit worldwide. 

Zoltan is founding president of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society and mentor of young entrepreneurs in Bhutan.