Entrepreneurs play a critical role in the engine room of the global economy. They drive innovation and create new ways of solving problems. They generate jobs and new sources of income. And they are increasingly playing a crucial role in tackling global poverty.
There’s a movement across the business sector – in Australia and overseas - for entrepreneurs to drive measurable social outcomes as well as profitability. To maximise social impact through their creativity and business ventures. Impact investors are also playing an immensely valuable role, placing their capital where it drives measurable social impact.
Building a profitable business that also has a measurable impact for society creates a strong sense of purpose in the founder as well as the staff of a business. It enables everyone in the business to perform at higher levels than if the focus is just about making money.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years and have noticed the happiest entrepreneurs are those with a higher sense of purpose. Entrepreneurs who’ve found a reason beyond income generation for their creative innovations. Entrepreneurs who are determined to turn their success into significance. This makes sense. Many wise men – religious and philosophical - have pointed out that if you want to lead a happy life you need to be of benefit to others.
I’ve been travelling to developing countries with Opportunity International Australia since the late 1990’s and I’ve noticed that the entrepreneurs in those countries work extremely hard just to put food on the table each day. They come up with creative ideas for businesses in the same way as Australian entrepreneurs but their needs are so different. It’s survival. Feeding their children. Sending their kids to school.
It’s inspiring to see how Opportunity has expanded the range of services it provides to families living in poverty. As well as microfinance, Opportunity provides education loans to parents so their children can go to school. Opportunity trains health leaders so they can educate their communities about hygiene, preventative health and first aid. And Opportunity provides financial literacy training, loans to build toilets and access clean water, agricultural loans and loans to buy mobile phones to help families to run their businesses.
Entrepreneurs everywhere – in developed and developing countries - are all business innovators, devising clever ways of solving the world’s most pressing problems. Let’s celebrate them as they grow businesses and drive economic growth.