Entrepreneurship is a hot topic these days. Countless articles and books have been written about it, entire university curricula have been built upon its precepts and success stories touting billionnaires who went from “zero to hero” infiltrate our newsfeeds and status updates.
Furthermore, entrepreneurship is no longer reserved for those with primary inventions and enough courage to risk their entire savings on an innovative idea. Rather, it has become the “right” -- to a degree -- for those of us fortunate enough to have been plopped into an environment that can sustain our entrepreneurial ideas. Living in a developed country means we have supportive government policies, access to capital and technological infrastructure. So, starting a business, for the most part, is just as viable as pursuing a more traditional profession. This isn't the case across the globe.
In less developed countries or “emerging economies,” the idea of entrerpreneurship takes on an entirely different meaning. It’s not about building a huge company with the goal being an IPO or an acquisition; and it’s not necessarily even about innovation, as we think of it from a technological standpoint. Rather, one’s entrepreneurial spirit emerges in spite of dire circumstances to solve different problems: supporting a family’s basic needs, sending a child to a better school and often times creating a safer environment for themselves in which to work.
Several months ago, the team at Qualcomm Wireless Reach asked me to join them in and the Phillippines and Malyasia to visit some of their current projects in conjunction with Hapinoy and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, where they are utilizing mobile technology to train, launch and sustain entrepreneurs. Having just attended the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Berlin the timing didn’t work from my end, but I was fascinated by this concept of “what entrepreneurship means to me” -- having just spent time with over 200 entrepreneurs from across the globe.
I asked the Qualcomm Wireless Reach crew if they’d be willing to share the heartwarming (and often heart wrenching) stories of the entrepreneurs they were visiting, with the intention to inspire my fellow entrepreneurs toward greatness.
From a woman who survived the Phillippines’ Typhoon Haiyon after losing her brother and 17 grandchildren to a single mother who is supporting two children on less than $100 a month, these stories are a gentle reminder that at the heart of entrerpreneurship -- no matter where you come from -- is the idea that financial pursuit is not the only goal. Rather, it’s how we choose to pursue our goals despite what we do or don’t have, the lessons we learn in the process and the people we positively influence along the way.
Here are four stories that are sure to insipire…
1. Entrepreneurship creates second chances.
“To me, being an entrepreneur means earning a living to support my family, while helping to rebuild my community.”
2. Entrepreneurship brings communities together.
“To me, being an entrepreneur means having dedication and heart, knowing how to deal with people and loving and treasuring what you have.”
3. Entrepreneurship empowers women to challenge traditional roles.
“Being a female entrepreneur means getting to make decisions and face challenges, and it gives me a feeling of confidence.”
4. Entrepreneurship provides a source of income that can lift a family out of poverty.
“Being an entrepreneur means a lot to me, and I’ve been dreaming about it as long as I can remember. It means I can depend on myself and survive on my own.”