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So, you want to be a social entrepreneur?
Despite the general perception, there are immense opportunities for the people in the Gulf who want to give back to their society as social entrepreneurs. Atique Naqvi investigates.
August 15, 2011 10:00 by Atique Naqvi
in Africa and Asia but the task is difficult in this region as not many people come forward for volunteering,” she said.
Najla Al Midfa pointed out at the challenges specific to this region such as regulations and lack of funding and awareness about socially relevant business startups. She said that there is a dire need to form an active community of social entrepreneurs.
Dr Iman Bibars said that 40 percent of the social entrepreneurs in the Arab world are women. She called upon the governments and private investors to invest now as this is the right time to put their capital in youth. “I would like to tell investors that they should look for long term strategy while investing in socially relevant business projects as these entrepreneurs are committed to bring change in the society and they are the people who dare to think out of the box.”
The US-based Acumen Fund help projects in countries such as India, Pakistan and Kenya. Jacqueline Novogratz said that two percent of the world population owns 50 percent of the global wealth, while 50 percent of the world population owns just two percent of the wealth. “We are working on how we can take this wealth and go beyond philanthropy to address this imbalance,” she said. Defending Acumen’s business strategy of financially stable social projects, she said, “We are building accountability in to system, leveraging the money and help transition of social entrepreneurs into regional and world markets. We are tough on monthly reports.”
However, Dr Bibars of Ashoka expresses a different take on this. She said that though 12 of the 55 projects undertaken by Ashoka are financially sustainable, but all socially relevant business projects take time to become profitable ventures. She said that entrepreneurs working on waste management and efficient energy use would benefit all sections of the society in the long run.
The brainstorming session came to an end with the pledges of support for social business projects in this region and voices to unite young entrepreneurs so that they can work together toward building a better and responsible community in the region.
This article was first published in TRENDS
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