I did something...I made YOU!

During one of my trips through Asia a friend of mine shared with me an intriguing episode: 

"Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them, the holy one went down into deep prayer and cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving Creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?” 

And out of the long silence, God said, “I did do something . . . I made you.”

I am curious as to how our inherited culture has allowed for us to so inconspicuously and gracefully slide out from under the regard for personal responsibility and engagement. I sometimes catch myself asking with an air of entitlement, “Why doesn’t somebody, or the government, do something about all these glaring problems?” 

I love working with entrepreneurs, be they economic or cultural entrepreneurs, because they possess a refreshing disposition of personal accountability. The very concept of “entrepreneur” embodies the notion of personal responsibility and accountability. I love it when an individual citizen steps up and says, “Yes, I can do that. I can come up with a solution to that problem. I can fix that so that everyone else is better off.”

Perhaps, the best-known social entrepreneurs are Bill and Melinda Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and his wife. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds many worthwhile causes, particularly in the fields of disease prevention and education. The Gates generation decided to use the expertise they had gained from the business world in addressing the world’s most intractable problems: poverty, disease, inadequate education, and corruption in government. They had learned the principles and effectiveness of economic globalization. Goods and services could be invented in the intellectual capitals of the world. The raw materials of these goods could be drawn from many nations, manufactured in others, and shipped around the world. The whole process could be tracked with uncanny precision by software that could put factories in Macao into overdrive when inventory ran low in Dubuque.

Marketing studies based on data mining or focus groups improved the development of goods and services, making the marketplace ever more responsive to peoples’ needs. Why not apply the principles that made the global market place so efficient to the world’s most difficult problems? Instead of the temporary fix of most humanitarian programs, why not use the tools of technology and global commerce to mitigate, or even solve, age-old problems.

The essence of social entrepreneurship—as with all entrepreneurship—lay in the reallocation of resources so that everyone would be better off. Our Project C.U.R.E.business model, for example, uses overstock medical goods to improve the health care of developing nations. Our collection, shipping, and distribution operations are prime examples of how to use economic globalization for good. The wave of social entrepreneurship that came out of the 1990s was a wonderful development. It reestablished in the public imagination that a person could do well in business in order to do good deeds in the world. It also spoke to the issue that God made us with a most unique possibility of partnership and accountability in the pursuit of discovering answers for today’s overwhelming needs.