Fostering Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Written on June 25, 2007 by Max Oliva in Social Entrepreneurship

Waya Quiviger, Director of Special Projects, Social Impact Management
On Friday 8 June, I was invited to speak in the context of the “Fostering Entrepreneurship and Leadership” seminar organized by the Centre for Applied Studies in International Negotiations (CASIN). More specifically, I represented IE Business School in a session chaired by Pamela Hartigan, Managing Director of the Schwab Foundation, on Social Entrepreneurship. The audience was composed of 50 high level leaders from business, government and civil society who had come from all over the world for this 10-day seminar and training in government, governance, entrepreneurship, development and leadership. Other session topics included negotiation, global trade, access to micro-credit (see attached Program and participant profiles).
Pamela set the stage by defining the “social entrepreneur”: a unique, motivated individual who takes direct action to solve a social problem using entrepreneurial skills. She also gave examples of what social entrepreneurs were NOT: lobbyists, activists, socially-responsible-for-profit businesses. Social entrepreneurs’ main goal is transformational change and maximizing lasting social impact. For Pamela the social entrepreneur is a cross between Richard Branson and Mother Teresa.

Pamela illustrated her talk by inviting different members of the audience to speak. The first speaker was Diego Pelaez of Bolivia, a young and passionate advocate of the positive role that private companies can play to alleviate poverty and promote development in poor countries. He has been working for Coronilla for the past 8 years, a small family business and the first private company in Bolivia to become a member of IFAT (International Federation for Alternative Trade). Coronilla makes gluten-free organic pasta that it sells in 8 different countries. It has been doing so well that it is soon expanding to Israel, the Netherlands and Venezuela. Coronilla has a very strong social mission and will not compromise its core values in order to make more money. The pasta is made under fair trade standards. Ever since Coronilla has decided to focus on this niche, its business has been growing steadily.
I spoke after Diego and made a presentation of IE’s Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship courses. I started off trying to find an answer to the raging debate: “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”. Or better yet: “Can entrepreneurship be taught?” My premise was that even though not everyone was born an entrepreneur, everyone could benefit from acquiring entrepreneurial skills within an academic context such as IE’s. Indeed, attending business school may not make you an entrepreneur but it will certainly facilitate entrepreneurship and give one the tools to develop a business. I argued that business schools fostered innovation and creativity and created an environment that was propitious to building a business. I also added that students had the opportunity to meet role-models, like-minded people, mentors and potential investors and partners. I then went into detail as to what courses we offered with special focus on the Venture Lab, Social Entrepreneurship elective and track. The participants seemed to enjoy my presentation as reflected by the many questions I fielded. Some even seemed interested in applying to IE.
The final speaker of the day was Anshu Gupta of India. He started GOONJ, an organization that collects clothes and distributes it to poor people living on the streets of India. Anshu is the recipient of an Ashoka fellowship in recognition of his innovative work and entrepreneurial ability. He made a very interesting presentation about the plight of Indian women who do not even have cloth or sanitary pads when they menstruate every month. This lack of hygiene has led to countless infections and deaths. His new project is to distribute sanitary pads to these women or give them clean cloths to use. Something so simple and basic can change millions of lives.
Pamela Hartigan concluded the session with another round of questions and answers. The audience was extremely engaged and interested in the topic. I had rarely gone to such an interactive conference. I certainly hope to have the honor of being invited again next year. I do believe this was a beneficial experience for CASIN, the seminar’s participants and for IE.


No comments yet.

Leave a Comment


We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept