The Cult of Entrepreneurship

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The Cult of Entrepreneurship

The fine lines between proactivity and entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship, as we all, know is a huge buzz word at the moment. Whereas once people grew up wanting to be an astronaut or a hippy we are now seeing a generation wanting to be the next Richard Branson, Mark Zuckenburg or Alan Sugar. Myself included.

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Karan Bilimoria – Founder of Cobra Beer

While it is admirable, having this ambition to fuel the world’s growth and sounds rather appealing to be earning $2.5 billion in a year, the truth is they are the exception not the rule. The process of creating a multi-billion or even million dollar concept involves so many long hours, character traits and a bit of luck along the way.

So this leads me to my big question… Is pro-activity amongst a cult of university students to do something bigger than themselves, just that… a cult or can we truly change the world?

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The Kairos UK Summit

Or is that even the right question? Do we really have a choice… Are we not the generation that has to solve the world’s problems?

Our parent’s generation have given us an incredible platform, for the first time we can communicate almost instantaneously with countries all around the world at low cost, we have the technology to start to tackle climate change and connectivity to get access to pretty much anything we want any time of the day through the internet. If you were looking at it in technology terms you would say we had the platform from which to build the subsidies that can change our world.

But with these rapid developments we have problems. We are going into a generation where unskilled people are being replaced by machines, which will, whether government intervenes or not cause huge structure economical skill differences between what we need and what we have. We are now more aware than ever before of the scale of: cancer, poverty, corruption, lack of education and the environmental impacts we are causing. We cannot, whether through ignorance or otherwise, turn a blind eye to these problems as people have a voice through the power of social media and other online forums.

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Matt and Me presenting at the South Africa Challenge Showcase

So this leads me to one simple conclusion, whether it’s entrepreneurship or good old fashioned pro-activity, we have a responsibility to take action. We need to be the generation that is willing, to think differently, to be ambitious and push our generation forward. This does not mean more replicas of great ideas because you “think you can do it better” unless you actually can do it better! One lesson we need to remember from those we are following is those that succeed, and I am referring to the Nelson Mandelas and Martin Luther Kings of this world, were, and in Nelson Mandela’s case are, obsessed that they could change things and were willing to die for it.

So let’s do this, it is our moment.


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The passion of South Africa

So almost 2 months ago now, my two weeks staying at the world changers academy in Durban came to an end. It was an experience I will never forget and I can’t thank all the people that made it possible enough. I just wanted to provide a reflection of my experience.

South Africa is a beautiful country from its beaches through to its rolling hills.

The community that we spent most time with was the Zulu community. A community that is still affected by the fall out from apartheid as well as a HIV epidemic. The unemployment rate is predicted to be around 40%+ in this community but truthfully they are still unsure as to the exact numbers of people living there never mind the unemployment rates. During our visit we were fortunate enough to live with a family in a township for one evening, admittedly the house was nice probably nicer than world changers in some respects (sorry Craig). The family shared with us what it was like to live within the community: the high crime rates, lack of work and risk of sexual abuse. Along with other things we saw in Durban it was very difficult to listen to and take in…

But this is not my memory of South Africa and it is an unfair representation of the community as a whole. The fact is that every country has significant issues, whether it be unemployment, poverty or terrorism but one thing that stood out more than anything was their love of life. Everyone we met within the communities was so passionate about South Africa and although they may have been financially poor were so willing to give and so friendly.

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It has forever changed my own personal definition of the word rich. As a part of the challenge the team were all involved in a personal leadership programme that tried to break down our preconceptions and leadership issues, this process reinforced to me the importance of not pre judging people. After all the truth is everyone has things in their lives that cause them to act the way they do, the process of being willing to understand and work with that gives you real enlightment.

As I move forward I want to make a real pledge to myself and to everyone else that I can’t forget the lessons that I have learnt not only in my short time in Durban but also in my prior experiences. After all, this process of learning and development is what sets us apart as mankind.


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Tackling the facts from the valley of 1000 hills…

So as I catch my breath sitting in Vancouver Airport after a fantastic month of travelling, I can’t help but begin to further reflect on some of my South Africa experiences. A big theme of the experience and something that I will continue to take in the rest of my life is the difference between fact and assumption. Something I will tackle in a later blog but for now here are some facts about the area we stayed in with some comments on some of them. Over the next couple of weeks I will begin to tackle each one in turn.

The facts:

  • The communities are still affected by the apartheid.
  • Within the valley of 1000 hills there is a HIV issue
  • The unemployment rate within the Valley of 1000 hills is high.
  • Rape and sexual abuse are significant concerns within the areas we visited
  • Waste of all types is a huge problem
  • There are a number of support organisations running within the area.
  • Although there are schools within the communities the teaching within many areas is sub optimal with many young adults still struggling with basic maths and literacy.
  • The South Africans we met were some of the most passionate people I have ever met breaking out in song and dance at seemingly random points!
  • Bribes within police and services
  • The affect of aid & handouts is still having an impact on the communities.

Apartheid

The apartheid although happening a number of years ago is still affecting the country. Many people we spoke to said that there are still areas that are known for particular colours of skin and that in our case certain areas were unsafe for white people to go into. The difference in schooling between communities is still significant with majority white schools or majority black schools but there is a feeling that this is now not based on skin colour but rather on available income. Black people are referred to as coloureds both by the government and within communities.

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HIV

The area of the valley of 1000 hills is known as the epicentre for HIV/ AIDs within South Africa. You can clearly see the affect of it throughout the communities with a generation the majority of which between the ages of 20-30 missing leading to families often being led by grandparents. The awareness or acceptance within some of the communities is still not there, with children not being school and some families not educating them. Often even within the schools children are told but still often don’t accept it exists or if they do they don’t see the scale.

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Ben speaking to some of the children in Makaputu. A fantastic orphanage in the valley of 1000 hills.

Unemployment

The area we stayed in had significant levels of unemployment but the truth is that the scale of the problem is still very much an unknown. Within the townships it is often one of two members of a household that are earning as in England but within some of the households we visited there could be in some cases more than 8 children. This problem in my opinion seemed on one hand because of the lack of jobs or industry within the close vicinity, another on the skill levels within the community but finally and most importantly in my opinion the aid culture or mentality. The mentality seemed so rife within so many of the people we visited simply that if they prayed or were willing to wait long enough they would receive more food or whatever else it was they needed. It was heart wrenching to listen to some of the people talking at the food handout we did of how they had no ambition to work or look for work because they knew they could get stuff off other people for without doing anything.

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An interview with a local man who has now got employment in the valley of 1000 hills with another local organisation.

Rape and Sexual Abuse

Within many communities rape and sexual abuse is rife in significant numbers. One of our team Matt Pradhan is in the process of producing a documentary about it from talking to rape survivors (the terminology they use- not victims). From some of the stories I heard, there was the potential that girls as young as two years old had been sexually abused. Many people within the communities consider the problem to be in mindset. It is horrible to think of the circumstances that some of these people have been in and it is further concerning to think that when Matt mentioned about rape of men the response was always almost of surprise at the suggestion.

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Matt interviewing Jenni a previous member of the police force and current supporter of rape survivors.

More to come…


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My Mission, Objectives and Trends

As a part of the South Africa Challenge all of the team have been asked to record themselves answering 3 questions in less than a minute.

So here it goes.

1) Where are you now?
Description – Do a 1 minute video blog introducing yourself.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RefkMtv8Phk]

2) What are your goals?

Description – Create a 1 minute video blog outling your short terms goals (SA Challenge), medium goals (1 year from now) and long term goal (3 years from now).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJK0Mtj4WR8]

3)What global trends, relating to your goals, are you going to ride?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYHCfyUnXkI]

I found this challenge really unnatural and to be honest I am sure if I look back at this in a couple of months it will probably change a lot but I think being able to look back at this in a couple of months time will be so valuable…

Onto the next challenge!


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