Social Entrepreneurship in the times of the refugee crisis

elzbieta-bienkowska-ec

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME at a November press conference. Date: 30/11/2016 Reference: P-033116/00-12 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union , 2016 / Photo: Mauro Bottaro

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by one of our passionate readers, Mrs Kassandra Petersen, former Vice-President of JADE (European Confederation of Junior Enterprises). The opinions expressed within reflect only the writer’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue. 

In a society and world that seems to be shaken by one economic, social and political crisis after another, social entrepreneurs are celebrated to be today’s disruptors and tomorrow’s brightest stars.

Especially projects claiming to find an “innovative” solution to the migration crisis, seem to be spreading like mushrooms – more than 700 of them alone in Germany. The variety of offered services and products is wide. Take for an example an app that is supposed to facilitate communication or a fancy boat ride on the Aegean Sea where people from first world countries come together to “philosophize” about solutions for migrants without them being included in the idea process. In the meantime, conflicts in refugee camps arise from being literally stuck, and this not in the sense of cosy summer camp conditions, while authorities do not have the manpower, overwhelmed by the amount of paper work stacking on their desk.

But who really profits from such “great” ideas?

Is it considered “social” if wannabe “entrepreneurs” are literally capitalising on the misery of vulnerable people?

But let’s take one step at a time: Who is even an “entrepreneur”?

French economist Jean Baptiste Say, said once: “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield”. Joseph Schumpeter identified similarly in the 20th century entrepreneurs as the catalysts and innovators behind economic progress, while Peter Drucker explained that an entrepreneur is someone that is exploiting opportunities. Seeing possibilities rather than problems.

According to this definition, they seem to be entrepreneurs. But he also mentioned that not every (not-for- profit) organization is entrepreneurial. The real struggle of a true entrepreneur is usually to make people understand how their product/ service can enhance our life, trying to find investors especially in the early stages of the lifecycle of their start-up.

So can you consider somebody that spends charity money an “entrepreneur”? Going further, only a few ideas include migrants actually as valuable parts of their teams. Shouldn’t it be mandatory for any start-up in order to understand their so called “core costumer” or beneficiary?

In addition, a “social entrepreneur” should have a social motivation. “Mission-related impact becomes the central criterion, not wealth creation”[1], the core principle distinguishing them from business entrepreneurs. There were always social entrepreneurs out there, even before the migration crisis, but nobody took those serious until it became recently a profitable business, easy and fast money to raise, no long-term view or customer-binding needed.

Furthermore, social entrepreneurship is commonly defined to achieve large scale, systemic and sustainable social change through a new invention. Bringing a profound social transformation means hereby to create a prosperous, stable and peaceful new system that is fundamentally different than the world that preceded it.

How is it a more just and fundamentally different world, if the only ones that profit are those with the “business” idea, but the core problems, namely the ongoing conflicts in the regions and the forced displacement of people, are still existing?

European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva said about the 2017 EU budget “(…).We continue to focus our budget on results, ensuring that every euro from the EU budget will make a difference.” But to be true, the EU and donor organisations seem to spend a great amount of money on projects that are still focused on short-term solutions. And even here, decisions are usually being made by people who have never lived in an emergency state/ a third world country, studied in the most prestigious and expensive universities and never heard of the expression “making a living” so they can’t even slightly understand what the real needs and priorities of the most vulnerable amongst us are.

Moreover, what will happen to these start-ups that are only focused on finding these temporary solutions, all those apps/ specifically designed products and services after the migration wave? In which way is this sustainable? Why don’t we stop duplicating project ideas, using the already existing apps, hubs and co-working spaces etc. and instead spend money on “scaling up” on already existing solutions/ start-ups?

In addition, we should rather focus on projects involving migrants as partners of projects in social enterprises, inspired by refugee social entrepreneurs themselves while thinking about the aftermath and local development of the states of origin, rather than celebrating those so claimed “social entrepreneurs” taking nice pictures with Head of XY, Minister XY or Senior Executive of multinational XY, instead of being out there actively engaged, claiming they found a solution from far without even being in contact with their target group.

Furthermore, let’s also do not forget the numerous positive examples of organisations and projects that even before the migration crisis linked social entrepreneurship and human rights. Innovative social enterprises that have been set-up with human rights issues at their core. Let’s also do not forget about the coast guards who are out there at sea, showing humanity by giving the most vulnerable a hand, gesturing that they are equal and welcome, forgetting for a minute their protocol to make a person smile that has seen the unspeakable .

[1] J. Gregory Dees in “The Meaning of “Social Entrepreneurship””, 2001, https://entrepreneurship.duke.edu/news-item/the-meaning-of-social-entrepreneurship/

Join the Hive!

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

These are the countries best prepared for health emergencies

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by Black doctors, suggests new study

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Here are five things to know about the future of being human

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Here’s what I learned at Davos 2020

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

5 priorities for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Copyright: MEPs update rules for the digital age

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

I created a class to teach zero waste. It turned into so much more

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

‘Our goal is to democratize the air.’ How aerial transportation will shape cities of the future

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Celebrating Gaston Ramon – the vet who discovered vaccinology’s secret weapon

2 trillion drinks containers are made every year – so where do they go?

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

There are 3 barriers blocking good menstrual hygiene for all women. Here’s how we overcome them

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

More Stings?

Advertising

Leave a Reply to Social Entrepreneurship in The Times Of The Refugee Crisis | shinwoosocent Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s