“Every entrepreneur who creates employment and opportunity where it’s needed is a social entrepreneur,” says Rob Salkowitz, author of the book Young World Rising. “Young world entrepreneurs show a particular genius for finding market opportunities in developing solutions to social problems,” he adds.
The rapid spread of computer technology around the world has allowed for tremendous growth in innovation and local social entrepreneurship opportunities in developing countries. In Africa, Internet access, especially through mobile phones, has created a new generation of “cheetahs” who are no longer waiting for government to solve their social problems.
This so-called “Cheetah generation” is taking matters into their own hands: through the Internet, Cheetahs are learning to access, contribute, and spread information to produce positive changes in their communities. George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist at American University says, “The Cheetah generation is a new breed of Africans who brook no nonsense about corruption. They understand what accountability and democracy is. Africa’s salvation rests on the backs of these Cheetahs.” By taking advantage of the Internet as a new resource to spread information, inventors in developing countries are able to improve and empower the communities they live in.
Salkowitz’s book, Young World Rising, profiles the stories of young innovators and companies that are combining business sense with social progress to benefit their constituents as well as their bottom line. “Infosys in India, which is a world leading IT services company, began as the entrepreneurial effort of seven engineers in Bangalore in 1983. And as this company has come up in the world, it’s made a massive reinvestment of its own resources to improve the capacities for all of India. Because they recognize that their success as a company is tied to the larger success of their society,” explains Salkowitz.
So how does Salkowitz feel about the future of innovation and business growth in developing nations? “As these companies succeed in their countries and in their regions, entrepreneurship itself is going to become much more viable and seen as a much more progressive way to make the kind of changes that we need to make in the future. So I’m very encouraged; I think that Young World Rising is an inspirational text for young people that are looking to start their own businesses but it’s also a how-to manual for existing businesses to adapt to changes that we are going to see in the world in the next 10 or 15 years.”
By Igor Kharitonenkov, social media intern
Rob Salkovitz interview with Inconciente.com, Argentina, September 2010.