According to the World Bank, 44 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty (surviving on less than USD$1.25 per day) since food prices started soaring in June 2010.
In 2010, 925 million people went hungry all over the world with poverty being the major cause of hunger.
Also in 2010, 78 million youths were unemployed worldwide according to the International Labour Organisation.
All these and more is happening at a time when our world is at its peak in terms of cross-border connectivity, exposure to and awareness of international issues and most importantly, technological advancements that we take so much of pride and obsession in.
Creativity, innovation, wealth creation and accumulation, fund-raising efforts, number of NGOs and ‘social enterprises’ and educational standards are apparently all at their pinnacles.
We have never been, as global citizens, in a better position to reduce social, environmental and economic problems around us. So why than, is the exact reverse taking place?
Entrepreneurship has a larger role to play today than it did ever before. I do not mean entrepreneurship only in the sense of a process of starting an innovative start-up but rather a set of life skills as well.
You see there is plenty of entrepreneurship being talked about and even practiced in the sense that we commonly know of. In September 2010 alone, 4600 over companies were registered in Singapore with 74% having a share capital of below $10,000. Tech-based firms with innovative offerings remain the preferred choice of angel investors, government linked funding and even business plan competition wins.
But entrepreneurship must go deeper than all of that to serve its true purpose and to really help us create a better world. Entrepreneurship for a better world is about 3 key aspects – values, skills and platforms.
Entrepreneurial education and exposure will nurture our youths with entrepreneurial values such as passion, perseverance, innovation, integrity and social responsibility. Such values, when embedded into their hearts, minds and spirits will nurture an entire generation that will be passionate about giving, sharing and succeeding. It will enable our youths to deal with failures, overcome barriers, spot opportunities and become survivors. They will become a generation that will be more preoccupied with creating solutions rather than re-emphasizing problems. They will be a generation that will ask ‘how can I make this possible” rather than finding reasons for “why this is impossible”.
Entrepreneurship will also equip and empower as many individuals in our society as possible with the relevant skills necessary to progress. Skills such as communications, relationships management, financial literacy and computer literacy to name a few. Members of societies will be able to leverage on these skills to move forward, to break out of their poverty cycle or help those around them to live more complete lives.
Businesses must be built on the foundations and principles of entrepreneurship so that they can provide safe and sustainable platforms. They must empower those within their reach to take their first step. They must play the role of the parent that buys the bicycle, provides the support for the child to get onto that bicycle and gives that initial push and even hand holding until the child is confident and competent enough to ride on his own. They should be able to create opportunities for those in their communities, show them the avenues and channels and convince them that it is alright for them to step out of their non-ideal comfort zones and take those first steps towards positive change.
I will be writing in more detail about the values, skills and platforms that we can provide and how. To receive those articles directly in your email, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the mean time, do explore how you can change the lives of your students, your members, your employees, your children and even yourself through entrepreneurial education.