• January 2013

Cheers to the UN's Resolution on Entrepreneurship for Development

By Beverly Schwartz
Author Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World

Break out the bubbly—any bubbly—in every country, in any language.

Here comes a New Year’s resolution that will resonate with entrepreneurs near and far. We can collectively raise our glasses and toast! By a vote of 129 to 31, on December 7, the United Nations adopted a resolution on “Entrepreneurship for Development,” which will encourage all member states to increase support for entrepreneurial endeavors by reducing financial, policy, and regulatory barriers that inhibit the growth of small and mid-size businesses worldwide.

For entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs everywhere, this is great news.

Okay. Maybe you’re scratching your head and thinking that this isn’t really a big deal to you and it really won’t affect your life at all. Well, you’re probably right. But step back for a moment and consider the larger picture.

It’s nice to be acknowledged for something most of you already know. Small and medium-sized businesses like the ones you run are getting the attention they—and you—deserve.

The UN resolution recognizes what entrepreneurs live and breathe every day — the the important sustainable contributions you are making by creating jobs and driving economic growth and innovation, while in many ways improving social conditions and confronting environmental challenges.

Importantly, it gives credit to the positive role entrepreneurship plays in driving job creation and expanding opportunities for all, including for women and youth, while developing new technologies and innovative business models. These are the main drivers of entrepreneurship. So give yourself a pat on the back and feel good about what you do every day. It’s not going unnoticed.

I was invited to address the merits of the resolution from a social entrepreneurial perspective. I chose to illustrate the need for support, nurturing, and empowerment of the social side of the equation by explaining (and showing a video of) the work of Albina Ruiz, a Peruvian who built a community-based, solid-waste management system that plays an increasingly important role in improving sanitation and health conditions in Peru and other countries in Latin America.

I specifically chose Albina’s story because every stage of the waste management cycle creates a network of employment and income-generating enterprises that integrates business and social value throughout the entire process. Exactly what I thought the intent of the UN resolution should be all about.

I was super familiar with her story, because I included her story as a chapter in my book, Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World.

Near and dear to my heart, the UN resolution serves to enhance the value of teaching entrepreneurial skills at all levels of education, and encourages entrepreneurship education through skills development, capacity building, training programs, and business incubators.

For all of you who hire young people as interns or part-time help, or give young people their first time full-time job and take the time to train and mentor—you are being recognized as role models for future generations.

What you might not realize on a daily basis is your role in helping young people turn their creativity, energy, and ideas into business opportunities that help facilitate their entry into the future labor market. And that is not insignificant.

So here’s a resolution that really rings in the New Year! I invite you to sit back and appreciate all you do in contributing to changing people’s lives and ensuring the economic stability of the world.

Beverly Schwartz is author of “Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World” (Wiley, April 2012).

She is also the vice president of global marketing for Ashoka, the world’s largest association of leading social entrepreneurs, www.Ashoka.org.

Follow her on twitter @beverlyschwartz

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