Every single woman stood up today speaking more bravely than the next. Issues of child trafficking, women entrepreneurship, genetic studies and the general advancement of women in the UAE was key on the agenda. These women, with the support of the many men who believed in them and never stood in their way to achieve in their mission have enabled the women race to prosper in a region that is always perceived to be hostile to women. As I sat in the audience at this inspiring women’s day event in Abu Dhabi, it made me think more about why purpose is more important than ever in the time we are currently living.
The planet this year was the hottest it has ever been, millions of people had to flee their homes and become refugees and closer to home in South Africa the racial tensions are getting ever more tense. People are becoming frustrated with leaders and organizations whose promises have become cheap political fodder.
Out of this frustration and chaos though something magical is starting to happen. We are starting to see a rise in the number of people who are making change their own responsibility. These people are getting behind real fights, real social and economic issues that matter to all of us. And if they win, we win.
So who are these people and how can we join them?
Social Entrepreneurs are people who put purpose at the heart of business. They find a specific challenge in society that needs a solution and then frames the solution as a business opportunity, not as a philanthropic initiative. They have figured out a way to do well by doing good. They are working on ways to make society better, live consciously; give back and hopefully if they reach a point of businesses sustainability. Sounds a bit like a utopia. Well we are seeing a rise in this group, in their business ideas and their unconventional stance to business.
Social Entrepreneurs have a certain activist quality about them. Think about Nelson Mandel fighting against apartheid, Mother Teresa fighting poverty and so many other icons of our time. It seems that social entrepreneurs borrow from these characteristics as they rise against something to make a real positive change in society.
Now if we bring this back to the corporate world.
You and I sitting in an office, reading this article thinking why am I not a social entrepreneur, why am I not using my force for good, why am I not using my business opportunities to make the world better? Well it’s because you, like many others have probably thought that the only way to do business in this world is as it’s always been done. Drive price down, make the most money and take out the competition. Now imagine you did all that and you strategically added a purpose into what you did as well?
We can all serve a purpose. It even feels good when we get behind something that has meaning to us. We feel lighter, better about being a good person and making a real difference. But when it comes to business we feel as though being generous, good or kind makes us look weak or like a push over. Well, here’s the good news. Now is the time to be the nice guy…Purpose is rising and those who succeed are the ones who dare to care for the people they serve.
If the women of the Emirates can do what they are doing to bring about change in their country, what is topping you in the free world to effect change that ripples across the country, Africa and the world too?
This article was originally posted at The Huffington Post on 03/16/2016