fredag 31 augusti 2007

Furthering Free (social!) Entreprise

I have never identified as one of those staunch fore runners of Free Enterprise as in the laissez-faire, survival of the fittest, cut-throat, dog-eat-dog market economy fundamentalists. And NO, I am certainly not converting now either! However, I find myself increasingly taking words in my mouth along the lines of "enterprise, entrepreneurship and venture". My twist on this though, is that I always put the word social in front of that.

In my mind, the ideas around social entrepreneurship, social ventures and social enterprise are challenges to the sometimes stagnant ways of running things both in the public and social sectors. For me this means innovation, new definitions or new paths toward reaching the same goals (or even new ones). It is a kick in the ass or a wake up call to those who are content with the way things are.

In my work I concentrate on the young people who contribute to this work and the development of new ways, new initiatives, new projects that start to make waves in their local communities, within their spheres of interest or social circles.

I think that Sweden has a great social system in many ways. But I also believe that there are huge disparities. Not all kids have the same access to opportunities in society. In some instances I also believe than too much privilege and access to all kinds of opportunities can make kids passive, thus not challenging themselves to develop skills that maximize their potential and could bring them great satisfaction.

We need to forge a set of relationships that challenge young people to explore, develop and realize their potential to create change in their community. That is why I have talked to loads of great young people over the summer to develop the coaching program that we now call Forge Ahead. This initiative brings together three actors in a local community in a mutually beneficial relationship that develops and furthers young social entrepreneurs. University students become coaches for high-school students who create social projects with the support of local small business partners.

The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, and many more appear as we go along. That is really exciting. On monday I am meeting the new CEO of SIFE Sweden, Camilla Ljunggren. Students in Free Enterprise is an international organization that enables students to create projects that contribute positively to society and further education around entrepreneurship. We will discuss our commonalities, and possibilities for collaboration. To me, it is interesting to explore how students that are coaches within our project can be part of the global SIFE movement and the competition that they hold to identify projects that have an extraordinary impact in society.

There is a lot happening, and I am enjoying being in the bustle of it ;)

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