Entrepreneurship As a Solution to Eradicate Poverty

Given the series on regional economic development being co-created by multiple authors on Handshake 2.0 entitled Building a Region - including by VT KnowledgeWorks executive director Jim Flowers and Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center president Joe Meredith - I was struck by this discussion of the relationship between entrepreneurship and poverty and share an excerpt from the Enterprise Solutions to Poverty Request for Proposal (RFP) from The S.E.VEN Fund:

Entrepreneurship, as a solution to eradicate poverty (i.e. a focus on wealth creation rather than poverty reduction via re-distribution), remains controversial…

At the core of the approach to poverty alleviation is the basic question: Are individual persons, no matter where they live, able to determine their own future? Does positive change come from the ingenuity of the individual or does a group of us (well-educated Westerners, primarily) have to tell the rest what to do? The answer to these questions goes to the core of our view of how we see the person, as fatalistic or self-determined and it determines whether our proposed solution to an issue like poverty involves a “top-down” approach or a “bottom-up” solution. Indeed, to what extent do we rest the locus of responsibility for a person’s future on him or her or on others, out of their beneficence?…

We want to answer the question of whether wealth-creation may be the most effective solution to alleviate poverty. We invest our efforts and resources to find, research, and document examples where entrepreneurial success is shown to have led to poverty alleviation. In the process, we will seek to inspire entrepreneurs in developing countries with advice, investments, role models, and services…

There are specific questions that have no formulated answers – it is our aim to sponsor research to explore and find these answers. For example:

  1. What are the most significant qualities of a successful entrepreneur, especially in the uncertain environment of a developing economy?
  2. Can entrepreneurship be taught, inspired, and diffused through a society?
  3. Could support for the entrepreneurial spirit serve as role models of sustainable solutions to poverty?
  4. What is the relationship between prosperity and progressive human values?
  5. How can enterprises contribute to making stronger societies?

A key aspect of SEVEN’s approach is that we believe that entrepreneurs and their companies can be competitive and profitable, while providing a positive impact on society. In fact, we believe that this is the only sustainable business platform.

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