December, 10, 2021

Social Entrepreneurs: An essential to our joint ‘response ability’ to a world in crisis

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This blog was based on the Main Stage Session at the 13th Edition of Sankalp Global Summit 2021

Session Moderator: Archana Shukla, Associate Editor and Bureau Chief, CNBC TV 18

Session Panelists:  Amma Lartey, CEO, Impact Investing Ghana, Nicholas Colloff , Executive Director, Argidius Foundation, Carolien De Bruin, Head of Covid Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, World Economic Forum , Richard Leslie Wright, Global Sustainability Director, Unilever and Anshu Gupta, Founder, Goonj

A high percentage of businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic had to cut back on their work force. This, however, did not dampen their resilience in making sure they took care of their families by continuing to still run their enterprises.

Their focus post the pandemic now is in building back their business, local economies and infrastructure.  Supporting local entrepreneurs and working in collaboration with global partners is the way to go in this current dispensation.

A case in point is in a country like Zambia where banks are very conservative and use the old systems of lending to entrepreneurs.  They are not as flexible; therefore, not making SME’s a demographic they engage with actively. In Kenya, however, banks have managed to create innovative packages for SME’s from different value chains and inclusive programs that target especially women.

Therefore looking at the big picture is imperative in understanding the SME sector operations. Reality on the ground is that Covid-19 is very much in existence and the challenges are beyond individual capacities. Radical collaboration, thus, is a way of partnering with the social impact innovators now, more than ever. This must be embraced across the board with all local stakeholders in order to harness growth by offering radical but polite funding.

The virtues of dignity, listening and valuing people in business is also a key component. The pandemic has given all the stakeholders a chance to change the narrative and do things differently. On the other hand donors have timelines and expect delivery. The challenge, however, is the targets and time frames set to help the innovators on their journey to scale. This helps them with progression and they are encouraged to embrace local solutions even with multi nationals situate in the respective localities.

For example Ghana’s 90% work force is from the SME sector. Government’s input is of great importance and the support with other stakeholders like enterprise support organization plays a big role in SME development as a public good thus enhancing and ensuring:  Quality of work life balance, Innovation on products and services, Resilience in people, Management by up scaling as a public good and retaining focus on small and local business to drive change

The Session also had the following as key takeaways:

  • Local business should apply all ethical practices that are in existence
  • To listen more and be answerable.to people you want to partner with
  • To listen more to the customer’s need;. The sense of being able to adjust, who you are and how you are operating
  • Success is attained by the path you choose but not by the path you let go
  • How you arrive to the want and not the need is what is important
  • Going the organic way especially when you are pushing for action externally requires you to learn and ask questions during the entrepreneurial journey.
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