Entrepreneurship that is simply focused on generating profits will slowly lose steam, especially with millennials and Gen Z consumers, who are very selective about supporting businesses which they feel are trying to make a difference in the world, experts said.
The theme of entrepreneurship with a purpose will continue to generate momentum, especially as global economies and communities look to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The world right now needs more entrepreneurs who think of the greater good of humanity; and more changemakers who defy geography and truly understand the importance of human interdependence,” said Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson at Sheraa. “One of the key takeaways of the coronavirus pandemic is that individuals have enormous power to create positive change in the world. That is the spirit that will help us heal from the impact of the pandemic and more importantly, will help us emerge stronger afterwards.”
Muna Al Gurg, director of Retail at Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, said that impact entrepreneurship solved problems through innovation keeping in mind the triple bottom-line of ‘people, planet and profit’. “Millennials and Gen Xers are looking beyond profit and seeking to make a difference in their community by impacting the issues they care about. Many challenges have been addressed by them, and so much more can be done.”
Speaking about the government’s role in facilitating such enterprises, Al Gurg said: “In UAE, the government has assumed an admirable role in setting an example on what can be achieved. Through the Emirates Foundation, we have a much greater reach than any private sector initiative to the largest youth volunteer platform at the national level. The private sector in our region has to step up and do much more to make a difference.”
Dr Fiona Murray, associate dean for Innovation and co-director of MIT Innovation Initiative and member of the British Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, noted that the startup ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region should focus on their specialised resources and the advantages they bring to the table. “We will then see a pattern emerging around these aspects which will be complementary to each other and these hubs can collaborate rather than compete with each other. We must focus on innovation-driven entrepreneurship, connecting them to science and technology, and evolving new approaches to solving important problems.”
Murray also said that the role of universities in creating the right ecosystems “is huge.”
“They should train the next generation in the digital economy, finance, and engineering, skilled in working across stakeholder groups to become incredibly effective changemakers. Governments should set the stage for the success of this ecosystem, encouraging entrepreneurs to innovate and enable transformation through the private sector,” she added.
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