ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR THE FUTURE
Economy as the finest of all arts: creative design that opens up a viable economic perspective.
"Our true illiteracy is the inability to be creative," said the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Our imagination, our ideas, the combination of thoughts are unlimited. So far there is no evidence that there are limits to our creativity.
Of all living beings, only human beings have creative potential. Today we need it more urgently than ever because a continuation of the current development threatens to lead us into catastrophe.
The force that brought us here in the first place can show us the most elegant way out of the catastrophe: the economy. For me it has the potential to be the most beautiful of all arts: creative design that fits the place, time and person and opens up a viable, lasting economic perspective. Bringing an idea child into the world. One that is not only the pride of parents, but can be useful to society and that attracts attention with good and inexpensive products. And last but not least, an action that does not exacerbate existing problems, but contributes to new and better solutions through broader participation in entrepreneurial ways.
There is already an area of entrepreneurial activity in which both the applicable values and the people involved are noticeably different from those in the conventional economy. I'm talking about the field of social entrepreneurship.
The idea of using entrepreneurial thinking and acting without combining it with profit maximization met with great interest and approval worldwide. The positive values of entrepreneurship - achieving goals, organizing practically efficiently, using financial resources sparingly - are affirmed, but without taking on the ballast of profit maximization. Something like Richard Branson and Mother Teresa rolled into one. We need - according to the basic idea of social entrepreneurship - people who find and implement new answers to complex social problems with entrepreneurial spirit.
Only at a superficial glance does it appear that the unconventional, the creative, the artistic people would not be enthusiastic about economics. Strictly speaking, that doesn't have to be right. The popularity that social entrepreneurship has gained in recent times suggests that interest in and understanding of entrepreneurship is growing, but the forms and ways of thinking of conventional economics are being rejected. Here we experience an affirmation of the entrepreneurial spirit for the solution of social problems.
One of the main features of social entrepreneurship so far is that it is active in areas that lie outside the core area of economics. Commitment to the disadvantaged and groups on the fringes of society is understood as a social concern. Let's think of the social entrepreneur as someone who no longer intervenes in the economy on the fringes of society, but in its core. His concern to give social impetus, to help people, remains - and his commitment can thus benefit everyone. He can expand his radius of action and thus increase his effect. As a social entrepreneur for everyone, he fulfills the task that we describe as citizen entrepreneurship.
Such a task can look back on a long tradition. In parts, the cooperative movement had always made it its task to provide its members with good products, beyond the otherwise prevailing strict profit mentality with its negative effects on products and people. For example, if we are thinking of attacking brands' inflated prices, we should keep this tradition in mind.
Social entrepreneurs are almost predestined to think and try out possibilities beyond profit maximization - and to find more compatible business models. The idea of car sharing, for example, goes back to the fact that a few socially committed nonconformists developed a feeling that the majority idea of a car-friendly city was neither intelligent nor sustainable. While economists who are professionally trained in efficiency are not bothered by the fact that automobiles spend 90 percent of their existence in parked and rusting mode, a handful of dissidents in Amsterdam in the 1960s began to experiment with how mobility could function without one's own automobile.
Today, social pressure comes from technical progress and changes in ecological conditions. The previously successful perspectives no longer fit into the landscape. In order to increase profits - according to the old thinking - you need
If you have higher sales, i.e. quantitative growth. Maximizing profits as the top priority sees protecting the environment as a secondary goal at best, even making it appear as a cost to a company that stands in the way of maximizing profits. Lip service does not take this contradiction off the table. A turning away from growth and profit maximization is not in sight.
The established companies will not stop creating artificial shortages. Nor will they abandon their branding strategies and bring product prices closer to manufacturing costs. They remain as Goliaths on the battlefield. If we want to change something about this, we have to act as Davids, as entrepreneurs. Must offer alternatives that challenge the economic power of the Goliaths.
These alternatives exist. And where it doesn't exist yet, it is realistic to create it: Today, unlike in the past, entrepreneurship is accessible to everyone. The development of our society meets our concerns. In the knowledge society, economic opportunities are being redistributed, capital is no longer the bottleneck, and neither is access to knowledge. In an economy with a high degree of division of labour, we can fall back on components that allow us to act professionally and on an equal footing with the big players right from the start.
All the elements mentioned here already exist in practice. We can look at how they work with small and larger examples. What is important now is to implement this movement, which is already beginning to emerge, on a large scale.
Entrepreneurship for the many, not the few. We fight for the fulfillment of a dream of mankind. Nothing less than that.
As David versus Goliath.
Small is beautiful - but if we recognize the historic opportunity and use it, it becomes: Small is powerful.