the grass is greener on the internet

Tribute: to opportunity and entrepreneurs
March 29, 2009, 9:49 pm
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[This post is a tribute written for an initiative by the Women’s Investment project, where Incentive House contributes $100 to a microfinance program for every blog post written. To get involved or find out more, click here.]

In tough economic times it’s easy for those in developed countries to look to the government and beg for a handout. They have taken care of us with social security nets before, so why don’t they do so now? Shouldn’t they be in charge of the economy enough to save us? We rant and rave about the inefficiency of regulations and point fingers, but all we want is a magical solution. The Economic Stimulus Package or pulling money out of nowhere seems to be all we can see.

But what about countries where the government is corrupt? Where the money, power and jobs go to the privileged few? Or perhaps where the government has no money at all to throw into the economy?

There is a theory that countries with better social security have cultures with risk-taking norms. But in countries with no social security they take the risk of starting their own business simply because there is no other solution; desperation entrepreneurship.

But better than stimulus packages, microfinance for women has been shown to have more far-reaching effects. For example, Grameen’s phone lady project in Bangladesh:

  • Microfinance for community mobile phones saw telecommunications access rise to nearly 100% of settled areas (also a benefit for trade)
  • Instead of just receiving a handout to live on, beneficiaries gained the opportunity to have a new way of life – and will eventually pay back the money that they borrowed
  • The women were more likely to put the money they made back into other businesses in their community or educating their children
  • Some women were able to gain the financial freedom to escape destructive marriages

Perhaps Australia, and other developed nations experiencing economic issues, can take an example from these entrepreneurs. Instead of complaining about the lack of jobs and waiting for the government to dole out cash, take advantage of low interest rates to start something of your own.

In economic theory, it’s entrepreneurs that drive the innovation and economic growth.

It’s time to invest in them.


1 Comment so far
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Great post, Katherine! Starting something of one’s own is challenging, but perhaps, more possible than ever before. I think there is much to learn from the micro-finance entrepreneurs that we come into contact with through Kiva.

Comment by Gavin Heaton

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