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The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It

Selam my beloved readers! This time, I will be talking about something that is close to my heart and of course a journey AWiB is heading to share with you all, if you are around and plan to join the amazing May Forum that takes place at UN-ECA on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014. Tickets are on sale at only ETB 695.00 and my advice to you is to please HURRY!!

Now, a sneak peek to one of the four amazing sessions that will be held on the forum is Social Entrepreneurship: How to Establish and Sustain It.

Ethiopia is on the road to be one of the middle income countries and is in the first phase of our Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). The first phase is almost over and the second phase is under preparation. I cannot hide my excitement about major developmental activities that are being undertaken and the huge infrastructural projects underway as part of achieving the GTP.

How many of us look at this as an opportunity for creativity and a possibility to awaken the nation’s entrepreneurial giants? Not only awaken them to the amazing business making opportunities but also to changing the lives of many people while making money. I leave this for your serious deliberation while I go on discussing few points on the term “Social Entrepreneurship”.

Some say, ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ is for non-profits making endeavors whereas others say that it is of course for-profits but will bring social good at the end.

I would rather adopt the definition given by the Society of Entrepreneurs: Social entrepreneurship is the process of creating value by bringing together a unique package of resources to exploit an opportunity, in pursuit of high social returns.

The characteristics as well as process of social and commercial entrepreneurship are the same in many cases.  Finding opportunity, developing business concept, figuring out what success means to you and how to measure it, acquiring the right resources, launching and growing up and attaining goals are the common characteristics.

So, what kind of people are social entrepreneurs? I learned that they are people who work to meet needs unmet by commercial markets and the government.  Social entrepreneurs are motivated by social benefit more than the financial benefit.  Successful social entrepreneurs usually work with  markets.  Finally, Social entrepreneurs can be made through education and training though some are born to be one.

Some guiding elements of social entrepreneurship:

  1. Motivation/Burning Desire: Addressing a difficult challenge requires a good understanding of your own personal motivation for doing so. It requires an alignment of self and work, passion and purpose.
  2. Sensing: Social innovation requires that we use all our senses to engage in “problem-finding.”
  3. Questioning: One of the most distinguishing behaviors of social innovators is asking the right questions—questions others are not asking.
  4. Idea Networking: This is the start of idea generation, and it involves sharing your challenge and emerging ideas widely, building a network around it—and not just brainstorming by yourself or within your organization.
  5. Associating: This is the cognitive skill of bringing together different ideas to create new opportunities and leads.
  6. Experimenting: Means testing your innovation in the real world, and using user feedback to refine and improve the concept. Although this is hard for many to embrace, as the likelihood of failure and imperfection is high, it is also an important skill for innovators, who view failure as feedback.
  7. Impacting: Social innovation doesn’t end with the manifestation of the idea; it needs to have impact. Every social innovator knows that there are more challenges in executing an idea than in generating one. Impacting means refining the idea based on more user feedback, creating a baseline and evaluation mechanism to respond to this feedback, and trying to scale up what works.

Thus, my dear readers, let us be aware of our surrounding, let us not blind fold ourselves with “that doesn’t concern me” or “it is someone else’s responsibility” or “the government should do this.” band  If you are not ready to involve in implementing, please share your brilliant and socially innovative ideas with others. I know they are within you and waiting to be exposed and come to life. Share them with people you trust and think will take them to the next level. That way, we create a society of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers. After all, that is what AWiB is looking forward to seeing happen, Re-engineering Our Thinking; Re-engineering Our World.  This session will be led by Frealem Shibabaw and you will learn from her life experience as well as innovative endeavors in creating and sustaining a socially responsible business.

By the way, the two other morning break-out sessions will be:

  1. Attracting and Retaining Talent in Civil Service Corps and
  2. Creating and Transforming Your World with Winning Negotiation Skills.

The afternoon session will be dedicated to “Women with Attitude”: Accomplished women who share their lives with us.

See you there and then!

Please send me your feedback at yirgas@gmail.com