Monday, April 25, 2005

6. Learning together for a cause

On May 2-4, the yearly “Dare to Be Your Own” (Våga vara egen) event will take place at the Älvsjö trade fair in Stockholm, Sweden. High school students from all over Sweden competes for the best Young Entrepreneur company 2004-2005. The idea is to start, run and terminate a company during one year as part of their school curriculum. The energy, engagement and creativity these young people demonstrate are what entrepreneurship is all about: realize an idea to the benefit of themselves and others.

In Sweden where youth employment is soaring, where the employment rate among people capable of working is extremely worrying and a well functioning national integration policy is frightfully absent, entrepreneurship is a key area to prioritize.

Entrepreneurship, however, is not only about making money, although this is a precondition. All over the world a new civil sector is growing up between the public and the private. A sector that is driven by social entrepreneurs who are able to find new models to create wealth, social well being and safeguard the environment. Here is a possibility to work for what you care about, with what you are good at and enjoy doing, every day, and make a real difference. One example is Björn Söderberg, nominated the Best Idea Driven Entrepreneur 2004 by the Swedish Federation of Private Enterprisees for his company Watabaran in Nepal, selling designed Christmas cards made of paper wastes.

What we see emerging is something that resembles a market economy of social ideas. During the 1990s, the civil sector grew by 60% in the United States and some estimates hold that that there are 2 million citizen groups of which 70% has emerged during the last 30 years. Moreover, international civil organisations has increased from 6 000 to 26 000 during the 90s. Global initiatives created to meet social problems as environmental destruction, entrenched poverty, health catastrophes, human rights abuses, failing education systems, and escalating violence. Initiatives coordinated via Internet accessible from all over the world with people self-organising faster than companies and government traditionally serving them, as pointed out in the 95 thesis of the Cluetrain manifesto. A collaborative learning process for a cause where distance is no barrier.

Society profits from entrepreneurship. The young people who competed in last weeks Young Entrepreneurship event ”Dare to Be Your Own” should not be just a fresh wind. They should rather represent the norm in a society where building companies and entrepreneurship are seen as invaluable elements in building our common civil society.

Read more
- Ung Företagsamhet (Young Entrepreneurs) (In Swedish only)
- Watabaran, an ethical business in Nepal
- Bornstein, D., (2004), ”How to change the world – Social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas”, Oxford University Press

1 comment:

Michael Simmons said...

Great to see youth entrepreneurship thriving in Sweden!