Social entrepreneurship – a modern solution for #firstworldproblems

“Every generation has the chance to shape the world. But the challenges faced today are more complex than ever before.” (Why we do what we do)

Generation Y lives in a time of 21st century leadership, which calls for forward, outside-the-box thinking; for innovation and creativity. Resources alone are not enough anymore, as Sharad Vivek Sagar said – “If money could have changed the world, money would have changed the world.” That is why social entrepreneurship plays a vital role today. Social entrepreneurship is “the process of pursuing innovative solutions to social problems. More specifically, social entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value” (Gregory Dees, The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship). With new, unconventional ideas and transformational solutions, they set out to tackle world’s burning problems that fall under domain of Millennium Development Goals and encompass fields such as poverty alleviation, education, health and environment. One of the popular and successful examples is non-profit organization Charity Water, founded by Scott Harrison, whose mission is to get clean drinking water to people in developing countries.

Science, technology and innovation dominate today’s life, creating a networked society and facilitating communication and exchange of ideas. In this global environment, STI have stimulated self-learning or autodidacticism and increased awareness about #firstworldproblems. This can be seen in the number of start ups, organizations, projects, forums etc. – which aim to tackle existing challenges. Since we live in an age of information, opportunities, and resources, what we need to do is connect innovation and entrepreneurial spirit with resources, to come up with an impactful solution.

Hilde Schwab, Chair and Co-Founder of Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship says: “All citizens – especially the younger generation – need to feel empowered and incentivized to apply their talents and creativity to generate more inclusive, sustainable growth. Governments alone cannot solve social problems, nor can the private sector, despite their respective resources and capabilities. But we can all collaborate…”

We in AIESEC believe that social entrepreneurship and pursuing innovative solutions to social problems, can help generate new jobs, increase income and tackle political, social and population challenges. That is why on March 31st 2014 in Mexico City, Americas Youth to Business Forum will host youth leaders, international speakers, fellow leaders and business to discuss and come up with action plan on how social entrepreneurship can drive momentum and ensure the sustainable growth of the region.

Join us on our official Facebook channel www.facebook.com/GlobalY2B on March 31st and become a virtual delegate of Americas Y2B Forum!

Why do we need entrepreneurial leadership?

“Since its inception, IE Business School has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit as a core value, and is now an international reference in the field of entrepreneurship” (entrepreneurship.ie.edu). What AIESEC and IE Business School have in common is the commitment towards developing young leaders and entrepreneurs who are not afraid of change and challenging the status quo. And why entrepreneurial leadership?

1. Ownership, pro-activeness and taking responsibility

Entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with concepts such as ownership and leadership.
Ownership implies knowing who you are, taking responsibility and owning up to your own actions. Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School, believes in the power of self empowerment and pro-activeness in achieving your goals. He invites people to start from themselves and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)

Taking responsibility for your decisions and actions is hard enough, but taking responsibility for something more than yourself – for other people, a project, vision or a dream is a true challenge. “Pressure makes diamonds” and great leaders often emerge when success or failure depends on what they (don’t) do. Entrepreneurial leaders focus on putting their personal and professional experience, leadership skills and values to practice.

2. Team management and motivation

People are those who drive change and leaders are those who inspire people to take action. That is why it’s important for entrepreneurs and leaders to be people-oriented and possess communication, motivation and mediation skills. When the growth of each team member is your responsibility, knowing how to listen, support and show empathy makes a difference.

Also, recognizing people’s interests and abilities and being able to develop them, sometimes distinguishes a good leader from a great one. When you “listen” to people’s affinities and allow them to fully participate, they feel included; they step up wishing to meet the expectations and exceed them; they put in effort and make a statement. The project you are working on is no longer yours, his or hers.

It is shared achievement.

Team management and motivation are crucial for entrepreneurial leaders because the cornerstone of a successful enterprise is building strong and effective teams.

3. Innovation and change management

The answer to this is simple – “…to meet the challenges of each new age means discarding old, sometimes well-loved methods” (Kazuo Ishiguro). In order to keep up with the swift pace of changes in the world, we need forward, creative thinking and innovative ideas. The man would have never landed on the moon had he not taken risks and fostered innovative thinking. Investopedia.com says that “The entrepreneur is commonly seen as a business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.” Entrepreneurs don’t chase opportunities, they create them.

Since we have answered the question: Why entrepreneurial leadership, let us wonder for a moment – Why do we need entrepreneurial leaders?

Because the sky is no longer the limit. Boundaries are being pushed every day, breakthroughs are more common than ever and still, challenges emerge with each day. We need innovation and forward thinking, embodied in entrepreneurial leadership, in order to keep moving forward.

At Youth to Business Forum Top Leaders Edition Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School held a workshop Leadership Journeys: Be the Change, Dream Big – From Moon Landing To Commercial Space. Stay tuned for the output of the Forum!

Why we partner with AIESEC – and why it matters

2014 is a special year for Alcatel-Lucent: this year, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the partnership between our company and AIESEC. In those 10 years,  450 young people were directly impacted through the partnership and had the opportunity to develop their skills in a multi-cultural environment in more than 25 different countries.

10 years is also a good time to take a step back and think: what is the purpose of this partnership? What are we trying to achieve together? Is this purpose still relevant in today’s organizational context, both for Alcatel-Lucent and for AIESEC ?

Those might seem like simple questions but answering them can be harder than expected.

First of all, let me explain what Alcatel-Lucent does. We build the equipment that allows you to call your friends and family across the world,  to access your emails on your phone, to watch a video on your computer… and to do that in mere seconds. We’re not telephone operators or computer design companies but we are the ones that give them a reason to exist. We’re the “behind the scenes” guys, enabling you to get the most of this ever-changing interactive world we live in. Simply put, we aim to connect people around the world.

We also believe technology should be affordable, accessible and sustainable. As we are trying to realize the potential of a connected world, our innovations need  to reach out to the whole wide world for them to truly have an impact. This means that sustainability in our products, in our workforce or in our way of doing business is an imperative for us.

Simply imagine: what if every child around the world had access to the Internet and was able to receive primary education? Or what if mobile phones could help prevent HIV by providing up-to-date information and care for people in hard-to-reach parts of the world?

We don’t want to simply imagine this; we want to make it a reality.

In this ever-expanding  and complex digital universe, we want to seize the changes that are happening  and build on them to create the technologies of the future. To remain pioneers, we must shift and focus on our core strengths and innovation technologies.

And for this to happen, we need people who can think out of the box, challenge limits, be creative and bring results.  What better place to find these young talents than through AIESEC!

The value that  we see in the partnership is not just measured in terms of number of internship experiences; it’s also measured by the talent development we see in each and every one of these interns and in the dynamic they bring to the company. The internship experience provided by AIESEC allows young people to discover themselves, who they are and what they want from life. It gives them a sense of direction and strong self-awareness by challenging their lives. And this fast development is a key element for Alcatel-Lucent.

Breakthrough technological innovation: this is what we do at Alcatel-Lucent.

So when I’m asked “why does Alcatel-Lucent partner with AIESEC?”, the answer is simple. “Because we believe AIESEC brings us a unique connection with talented young people who want to help us change people’s lives”. Simple, yet powerful.

This is why we partner with AIESEC – and more importantly, why it matters.

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This post was brought to you from Laurence Dumont, the Global Coordinator of the Alcatel-Lucent partnership with AIESEC.   

If you are interested in applying to an AIESEC internship with Alcatel-Lucent or any of our other partners, please check out the opportunities available at here