We’ve all heard the analogy of “teaching a man to fish” advocating for a sustainable impact instead of simply placing a band aid on a major issue that we encounter. Here’s an extension of the analogy to dive a bit into our perspective on entrepreneurship.
Let’s consider a world with abundant social value as a world of plentiful fish. This would mean a world without poverty and a world with peace and prosperity. Clearly, this is not the state of our world right now. In fact many parts of the globe, as we all know, experience a significant shortage of such fish.
Social entrepreneurs are some of the best fishermen out there. They figure out the ideal fishing spots, the most effective times to fish and the most innovative ways to continuing reeling them in. But who helps these fishermen?
There are a few programs out there that provide these fishermen with boats and incubate their development process. Others attract existing fishermen and connect them so they can share best practices. There are other programs that find fishermen who have hooked a big one already and have landed what seems to be a high potential social venture. Those programs then help pull.
Such programs are making a significant impact and contributing to this cause but who recruits the fishermen? Who takes the time to show people the need for fish and what it actually means to be a fisherman? Who shows people where there are needs exist in the world and why entrepreneurship is even a solution? Who invests in those who don’t have a pole yet and teaches them with the skills and resources necessary to one day be leading this movement?
The answer is that there isn’t a lot out there right now. But there needs to be. Our vision with Compass Partners is that as long as parts of this world have an insufficient supply of fish, the world is still in need of new incredible fishermen. We’ve reached one important conclusion: if taught to fish, students have the potential to become of the most effective fishermen out there.
- Arthur Woods, Founding Partner
To continue this stream of thought regarding the interconnection between the realms of anthropology, community interaction, and social entrepreneurship, I distinctly think of two clear examples that embrace these concepts that everyone should investigate:
Kiva is a micro-financing organization based online that connects donors with local entrepreneurs working within their own communities. With their mission to “connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty,” Kiva exists as a very successful example of bridging the disconnect between those who have the ideas but who are short on funds with people who have funding but no appropriate outlet world wide. The network is uniquely designed to provide the entrepreneur with a short-term loan, which will be paid back over time and can then can be re-issued in the future. I became personally connected to this site when relatives of mine gave a donation in my name for Christmas three years ago. Literally, it is entrepreneurial investing.
Check out their website at http://www.kiva.org/about
“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson is a personal account of the achievement of “peace through education.” The book details Greg Mortenson’s determined quest to build schools in some of the most dangerous areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Raising money on his own, as of 2009 he has established/supports 131 schools which have provided education to 58,000 children, 44,000 of them being girls, throughout volatile regions in the Pakistani and Afghani countryside. Among many testimonials from political and military figures alike, “Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.”
Check out his website at http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ and his new book “Stones into Schools” coming out this December.
Just some inspiration as we head into the last few days before break. One idea can go quite far…..
~ Kathryn Angstadt, Georgetown College 2010
As temperatures rise and the sun shines brighter each day, residents of Frederick, Maryland, my hometown, look forward to the beginning of summer for one of the many perks it brings—the opening of a series of local farmers markets. Frederick has always been a primarily agricultural county; “eating local” is not a new phenomenon for those who depend on their own small farms to feed their families. In the past few decades however, as the area has grown and residents used to shopping in large supermarkets have moved in, small farmers have lost much of their business (and land) to residential and commercial developers.
It is for this reason that the opening of the area’s first farmers market, in 1991, was such an important step for the area. This market, located on the town’s fairgrounds, still runs today, providing a venue for producers and consumers to interact and exchange directly. Supported by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, area markets have, in recent years, succeeded remarkably in keeping prices down and attracting interested buyers.
Why would the government support these markets? As economists and environmentalists struggle to answer our country’s present problems, support for farmers markets has increased because, well, they essentially benefit everyone involved. Buying local cuts down on transportation and preservation’s financial and environmental costs; it also reinvests money into communities rather than corporations, and supports the struggling family farm sector. Governments see a return as local farmers succeed and state economies grow when commerce stays in the area.
Farmers markets are an example of social entrepreneurship at its best; entirely sustainable because they benefit both the producer and consumer, they address present issues in a socially conscious manner. Consumers don’t just choose farmers markets over supermarkets because they are aware of the social benefits; they choose this venue because it offers them a good product and a live interaction with a producer. Plus— don’t ripe, local cherries just taste better?
~Beth DiSciullo, Georgetown 2012