My interview on Monocle’s ‘The Entrepreneurs’ is now online!
In this interview, you’ll hear how my early work in international development led to the start of my journey as a social entrepreneur, how our village banking model works in different regions worldwide, and of course, why social entrepreneurship is the only logical way forward! I want to thank host Daniel Giacopelli for this fantastic opportunity.
Two somewhat contradictory articles on the Millennials and Entrepreneurship appeared recently, one by Scott Shane claiming that young people are less interested in starting their own businesses than were people of my generation (Boomers), and the other by Annika Small, suggesting that interest in self employment among this group is on the rise. To be fair, the articles quoted different studies that compared different population samples across different time frames – the classic “apples to oranges” quandary. But, clearly, interest in entrepreneurship among Millennials can’t be both increasing and abating, can it?
But wait: where the authors are in agreement is that if you add the word “social” to the mix (as in “social entrepreneur”), then there is an unambiguous trend among Millennials towards a desire to create a better world vs. fatten their bank accounts. Annika Small sees Millennials as “looking for radical solutions to social problems rather than creating a product or service that will make them a stash of cash.” Shane finds that “young people have broader goals life goals than their parents did when they were in school. Millennials may be less focused on being successful entrepreneurs because they think it is important to achieve other goals, like being good parents and citizens.”
It is, of course, possible both to improve society and make wads of money, as the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have done. The difference with Social Entrepreneurs is that we focus on curing some societal ill or injustice as the top priority. But like all entrepreneurs, we strive to do so in a financially sustainable way. Microfinance is probably the best example of a social enterprise that started out trying to put capital into the hands of the poorest micro entrepreneurs in developing countries so they could create their own businesses and bootstrap themselves out of poverty, and has grown into an industry that has transformed the global financial sector. Players in the microfinance industry today include commercial banks, payments companies, retailers, money transfer companies, telecoms as well as the pioneers like FINCA who started the revolution.
What excites me is to see more and more young people entering the Social Enterprise space, bringing their passion and new ideas for creating a more just world with less poverty. The kind of disruption that my generation created in the ‘60s, and which birthed microfinance, is seeing its echo in a whole new generation of social entrepreneurs.
I saw “Black Swan” over the holidays and, for the record, this was the email I sent Natalie as soon as I left the theatre:
Natalie, I just saw your latest work, and I have to say, I have never seen such an intense, riveting, sustained performance by an artist. It left me feeling drained emotionally and with my head shaking in admiration. I think you have reached a new level in your career, and if you don’t win an Oscar for this one there is no justice in the Academy.
Of course, as my wife constantly reminds me “It’s not about you.” (At my funeral, I’m sure she will remind those present “This is not about Rupert”)
I first met Natalie in 2003, when she was “almost famous”, having starred in several movies, and won critical aclaim for a precocious performance in the French action film “The Professional” when she was 13. She had just been graduated from Harvard and was about to graduate from “almost” to “very famous”, as she was working on the “Star Wars” prequel. She’s pretty much the dream celebrity spokesperson: brilliant, talented, gorgeous but as approachable as the girl next door. In interiews, she often manages to steer the conversation to FINCA, even as the host tries, unsuccessfully, to pry into her personal life.
Natalie’s and my own movie career intersected briefly in “Stories of Hope” www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-PBFuOu1Xk
which we shot on location in Mexico over the course of 5 grueling days. In it you can see me perched on a hilltop outside of Cuernavaca, sweating through take after take under the tyrannical direction of Juan Carlos Rulfo, an award winning documentarian. There were rumors that I would walk the red carpet for a statue in the category “Best Cameo in a Foreign Infomercial”. It was not to be. Industry politics, don’t you know.
That was my farewell to Hollywood. I never really recovered from the disappointment of being passed over. As a result, I returned to my career as a Social Entrepreneur.
Of course, if Tarentino wants to talk about a “come back role” in Reservoir Dogs II , I’m listening.