There has been a great call towards entrepreneurship as a solution to the 21st century challenges. Indeed all over the world, there is evident effort by individuals, corporations, governments and the international community to promote and encourage entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship has been defined as a process of identifying and starting a business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources and taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture. On the other hand, we have witnessed the coming unto stage of social entrepreneurship as a new clone of entrepreneurship tested to address the challenges of the modern day world. Social entrepreneurship is the process of pursuing suitable solutions to social problems; it adopts a mission to create and sustain social value. Social entrepreneurs draw upon appropriate thinking in both the business and non-profit worlds.
18th – 24th November marks the Global Entrepreneurship Week which is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. During this one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities include competitions and gatherings for the purpose of networking and in fact bring together potential collaborators, mentors and investors. It is the perfect week for millions of people who have had an idea for start-up but had never garnered the courage to grow it. They draw inspiration and advice from the likes of Richard Branson, Michael Dell and Muhammad Yunus and as it is said, “GEW is more than just a campaign; it is a platform for connection and collaboration…”
As we celebrate the Global Entrepreneurship Week, I have chosen to highlight the work of The DO School which is an innovative educational organization offering learning experiences that create real global change. The School offers a unique one year educational program that enables talented young adults to launch their own innovative and sustainable social ventures. It allows its Fellows to learn from passionate peers, engage with current leaders and experts, and create change by implementing these social ventures in their home countries. The DO School which was formerly called D&F Academy after its founder’s philanthropic body, Dekeyser and Friend Foundation has been able to create a network of social entrepreneurs all over the globe based on its challenge-based programs offered annually.
In July 2013, I had the chance to attend the DO School in Hamburg Germany on a peace project under the guidance of 3 time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Scilla Elworthy and other experts. The experience has turned out to be an eye opener for me in the world of entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the School, I had founded a youth NGO in Uganda called Writing Our World which aimed at encouraging young writers to actively participate in changing their communities for better through activism in written and spoken word. Two years down the road, I was faced by a challenge that is probably faced by all start-ups; financial constraints. We had a number of programs we wanted to roll out and we were passionate about them but we lacked the finances to get them going, we knocked on doors of various donors and individuals but it was proving a futile experience.
While at the DO School, through meeting various mentors, donors and social entrepreneurs I was able to finally open my eyes especially to tackling the challenges of start-ups. In Fellowship with 18 exciting young entrepreneurs from all corners of the world, we exchanged ideas and learnt from each other’s experiences. While living together in the beautiful city of Hamburg, we were also able to come in reality with what it means to live in a global village. Of particular interest were the exciting ideas and innovations that young people were putting in place to run ideas they bore. The concept of social entrepreneurship also became clear to me. We began on a process of identifying a social challenge we wanted to solve, researching on it and pre-testing it against the needs of the target audience. I also learned that even when one wanted to do good for a community, they had to bear in mind their own welfare; can your idea sustain you individually?
Months down the road, I celebrate a wealth of knowledge that I continue to gather from the Do School during my one year fellowship that ends in July 2014. I am continually encouraged by success stories from the 18 young people on the program with me and all the alumni of the school. I am also happy that finally my non-profit is adjusting to the challenges of the day and adopting new approaches to finance our projects and continue to do good in our communities while bearing in mind our own welfare. This month I travelled to the western districts of Kenya to meet another Do School fellow Jacob Opora who runs MGI Consultants Koyonzo which does a number of projects in sports, solar energy research and youth empowerment. Together with Jacob, we hope to build a partnership that will extend a debate program to over 50 Schools in western Kenya.
As we go through the Global Entrepreneurship Week, I call upon fellow young people to get to their feet, develop their ideas and work to see them grow. It is only through entrepreneurship that we can face the challenges of our day!