The Launch of Yunus Center at AIT

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and the Asian Institute of Technology formally launched the Yunus Center at AIT, the first of its kind outside of Bangladesh on the 19th of August, 2009. The formal charter was signed on August 19 by Prof Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Centre, Dhaka and Prof. Said Irandoust, then President of AIT.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Prof Muhammad Yunus remarked that this would be a landmark development in South-East Asia. The Yunus Center at AIT will contribute to poverty alleviation by enabling rural people to handle and be in control of improving their own livelihoods through their own farming and agriculture-related business.
“All activities at the Center shall follow the objective of poverty reduction and sustainability with an initial focus on agriculture and food security issues, encompassing a variety of disciplines and facilitating interdisciplinary work in such areas as production of food, food processing, logistics, economic factors of consumption choices in the society, the use of food for energy as well as nutritional value of food, land ownership, soil quality, water use, subsidies, credit, market stability, market speculation, wholesale and retail distribution systems and insurance,” Prof Yunus said.
AIT President Prof Said Irandoust remarked that it is very appropriate that AIT is the venue of the Yunus Center since AIT was recently endorsed by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon as the site of the official ASEAN Center of Excellence on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Yunus Center at AIT will address issues such as ICT for the poor, food security, climate change and social business. The objectives and goals of the Yunus Center at AIT are very much attuned and aligned to the "AIT Strategy 2013" document, the AIT President added.

Charter of the Yunus Center at AIT

Article 1 - ESTABLISHMENT

1. The Yunus Center at AIT (hereinafter referred to as “the Center”) is hereby established as an institute-level center within the Asian Institute of Technology.

2. The Center may establish additional satellite centers outside the main AIT campus as appropriate for the implementation of its objectives and activities.

Article 2 - STATUS AND AUTHORITY WITHIN AIT

1. Within AIT, the Center shall have the capacity, in accordance with the Charter and Bye-Laws and policies and procedures of AIT
a. to contract;
b. to manage its own finances;
c. to hire and appoint staff. Staff of the Center shall be employees of AIT, subject to AIT policies governing employment.

2. As in-kind contribution to the operation of the Center, AIT shall provide sufficient office space for the Director and sufficient Secretariat staff.

Article 3 - OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES

1. The objective of the Yunus Center at AIT is to contribute to poverty alleviation by enabling rural people to handle and be in control of improving their own livelihoods. All activities at the Center shall follow the objective of poverty reduction and sustainability with an initial focus on agriculture and food security issues, encompassing a variety of disciplines and facilitating interdisciplinary work.

2. The Center will provide an independent and open platform for addressing issues in poverty alleviation in a way that has a direct impact on poor people’s lives. It will act as an incubator for new social business plans that challenge conventional academic wisdom; it will facilitate generation of community-based knowledge; and it will promote opportunities for both women and men.

3. The Center will serve as an incubator to foster development of approaches to poverty alleviation that are in line with the broad mission of academic institutions but that do not fit within existing academic structures. The Center will work with colleges and universities to transform education institutions into dynamic promoters of change for poverty reduction. The Center can assist these institutions to abandon long-established traditions of academic isolation and become active contributors to sustainable agricultural and rural development through innovative teaching, research and extension.

4. The activities of the Center designed to take advantage of possibly synergies with the teaching, learning, research, and outreach activities in AIT’s Schools, Extension, and satellite centers.

Article 4 - GOVERNING BOARD

1. The Center shall be governed by a Board. The President of AIT shall be an ex-officio member of the Board.

2. Board members shall serve for a term of three years, renewable.

3. The Board shall elect a Chairperson (or Co-Chairpersons) and Vice Chairperson whose term shall be three years, renewable. Professsor Muhammad Yunus and the President of AIT shall serve as initial Co-Chairpersons.

4. Nominations for Board membership may be made by any member of the Board.

5. The election by the Board of a new member or the re-election of a member may be made at a meeting of the Board or by postal ballot. A new member shall be elected if two thirds of the members voting approve the nomination. The procedure to be followed for postal ballot shall be determined by the Board.

6. Members may resign from the Board by sending their written resignation to the Secretary for submission to the Board at its next regular or special meeting.

7. A member may be removed from the Board by a three-fourths vote of the members present and voting at any regular or special meeting of the Board.

8. The Board shall be the supreme organ of the Center and exercise the following powers and functions
a. To approve the strategic plan of the Center and to monitor progress on its implementation;
b. To approve the annual operational plan of the Center and to monitor progress on its implementation;
c. To approve the annual budget of the Center and to monitor progress on its implementation;
d. To approve the annual report on the operation of the Center;
e. To appoint the Director of the Center and set forth his/her terms of reference;
f. To approve or decide on other matters necessary for the implementation of the objectives and activities of the Center.

Article 5 - MEETINGS OF THE BOARD

1. The Board shall hold at least one meeting each calendar year.

2. Special meetings of the Board may be called as required. Such meetings shall take place when requested by the Chairperson of the Board or by a simple majority of the members of the Board.

3. A quorum of the Board for transaction of business shall be one half of the members.

4. Each member of the Board shall have one vote.

5. In case of dispute over the conduct of business, the procedures laid down in Robert’s Rules of Order shall be followed.

Article 6 - DIRECTOR AND SECRETARIAT

1. The operations of the Center shall be carried out by a Director and Secretariat.

2. The term of the Director shall be four years, renewable.

3. The Director shall represent the Center, ensure the Center implements its objectives and activities as set forth by the Board, and act as head of the Secretariat.

4. The secretariat of the Center shall also serve as secretariat to the Board.

Article 7 - FINANCE

1. The financial operations of the Center shall be governed by internationally acceptable accounting standards to be adopted by the Board.

2. Each member of the Board shall have the right to inspect the books and accounts of the Center. The Board may specify the time and manner in which the books and accounts may be inspected by the Board members.

3. A full financial audit of the operations of the Center shall be conducted on an annual basis by an independent auditing firm appointed by the Board. Such audit reports shall be submitted to the Board for its approval.

Article 8 - DISSOLUTION

1. Upon the initiative of more than half of the member of the Board, the dissolution of the Center may be proposed to the Board. The decision on dissolution of the Center shall be taken by the consensus of the Board.

2. On the basis of the decision of the Board, the necessary steps shall be taken by the Board for the dissolution of the Center. These steps shall include establishment of a committee by the Board to advise the Board on the manner in which the assets and obligations of the Center should be liquidated prior to the dissolution of the Center.