A perspective on the evolution of Entrepreneurship
The fifth article we are sharing with our Humble Dreamer community is in close relation with the first one we had published (A vacuum as the result of history). In the previous article, we had overviewed the historical evolution of the economic infrastructure we collectively live in, and identified a gap in our early 21st century, which made place for a new type of capitalism, called social-capitalism. This is where we think social entrepreneurship fits perfectly in. Therefore, after observing the evolution of the economic structure we are a part of, we now suggest observing the evolution of the internal entrepreneurial activity of mankind. We have identified three main historical phases of entrepreneurship throughout history.
The first and essential phase of entrepreneurship is what we call the classical one. This economic activity was born with the basic survival needs of mankind. The aim was to solve basic necessities such as sleeping, clothing & eating. As humans got interconnected in more sophisticated groups, called communities, and early societies, this foundational entrepreneurial activity expanded in other fields, such as health, housing, education, etc. Human’s thrived to develop all kinds of enterprises to increase their own level of well-being, by increasing the level of their community’s well-being. This phase, which goes from the beginning of humanity up to the renaissance period, was mainly preoccupied with the survival of oneself and of the community. The approach, in a large number of accounts, was to identify areas where there was an underserved basic or primary need within the community, and develop an economic project around that need. Once a need was identified, an economic solution was created and a business venture was born around the solution that was imagined by the adaptive and very creative human mind. That was the classical entrepreneurial process.
The second main entrepreneurial phase of mankind was initiated over the course of a few centuries, those of the renaissance, responsible for creating a bridge between what is historically called the middle-age and the modern times. A good starting point to understand this type of entrepreneurial activity is at the very beginning of Italian renaissance, at the turn of the 14th century, with Marco Polo’s travels and entrepreneurial ventures. That point of history is debatably the first time that products from one side of the world, such as spices and silk, reached consumers on the other side of the world, those of Italy and the rest of Europe. Italian renaissance also offered two other key elements that propelled mankind into this global entrepreneurial phase. The first was the scientific discovery that led to the understanding that the earth is round, which would in time offer no limits nor boundaries to adventurers and entrepreneurs of all horizons. The second element was the birth and growth of financial markets and banking institutions in Venice, Florence, and soon after, throughout the whole of Europe. These banks and financial markets are directly responsible for subsidizing and financing the main European powers, such as Great-Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, in their conquest of the world through the seas. It is between the 17th and the 19th century that trade, on a practically daily basis, became truly global. Therefore, the entrepreneurial process did not rely anymore on identifying a need and finding a solution to solve the need, but rather finding economic opportunities around the world to satisfy the growing “wants” of Mankind. Finally, the culmination of this entrepreneurial phase happened throughout the 20th century, especially during the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the term of “globalization” was on everyone lips. Globalization is an economic concept that promotes the removal of economic borders, transactional fees of all sorts, economic and legal regulation, and so on. All this in order to optimize and maximize global entrepreneurial activity. So, this is where we concluded the last millennium and started a new one. But the economic honeymoon of mankind exploiting the resources of the earth, benefiting and increasing our quality of life on so many levels, has unfortunately passed, and our time is one of a new global reality.
As you might understand at this point, there is an evolution of the human entrepreneurial activity that seems to be returning to its initial roots, as if the cycle was coming back somewhat to its beginning. Indeed, Classical Entrepreneurship was all about finding answers to solve local needs, and eventually local opportunity to satisfy local “wants”. Then, Global Entrepreneurship was all about identifying global opportunities to satisfy and benefit from growing global “wants”. But now, a new kind of entrepreneurial activity has recently emerged, and its process is quite similar to Classical Entrepreneurship, in the sense that it has to focus on needs, rather than “wants”, for our global population. This 21st century type of entrepreneurial effort is focused on finding and creating global solutions to solve key problems we face as a species. This phase is called Social Entrepreneurship. Its focus is dedicated to solving global needs that are the consequence of what we call the seven global challenges of our century, and even of this millennium. These global challenges are Human Rights, Global Security, Poverty, Population & Migration, Education, Health, and the environment (Sustainable Development). These will be the subject of an upcoming article, which will aim to explore and explain each of these global challenges. For now, let’s simply make sure we understand that these challenges are directly endangering our survival as a species, but on a less philosophically and a more pragmatic level, the survival of so many of our human brothers and sisters, on a daily basis, all around the world. Social Entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate, as we collectively need to do more and more, and are creating innovating business solutions to solve the global needs we have as a species. We are one team, and we only have one playing field, Earth. Let’s be attentive of how we treat our teammates, of how we respect our field, and together, as social entrepreneurs, we can solve our global challenges. This is what Social Entrepreneurship is all about and why we call ourselves Humble Dreamer…
By Tobi Rodrigue
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