Why We Need to Reorient School Education To Produce Job-Creators
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On September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nation. They established a 15-year to-do list and unleashed a surge of action from all sectors to improve lives around the world. Shaped through consultations with businesses, governments, nonprofit leaders and citizens, these goals will catalyze attention, energy and resources to address global challenges such as extreme poverty, gender equality, climate threats and quality education for all.
One of the goals – Goal 8 – is focused on inclusive, sustainable economic growth and creating employment opportunities. I want to add a new perspective to this. Traditional view is based on the perception that all human beings are job-seekers, with few exceptions. I feel that this view needs to be revisited. I think human beings are born with entrepreneurship in their DNA.
We forget that people have survived on this planet as go-getters and they have been able to survive because of their unlimited creative capacity. Every person has the entrepreneurial streak inside them. It only needs to be wakened, encouraged, and set free. It is unfortunate that we got accustomed to worrying about 60 million new job-seekers entering the global job market each year, whereas it should have been a cause for celebration that a wave of 60 million new entrepreneurs joining the global economy each year.
Grameen Bank, the microcredit institution, I founded 40 years ago, lends out money with no collateral to 8.6 million borrowers, 97 per cent of whom are illiterate women. They use the funds to launch businesses in the villages of Bangladesh. If illiterate and poor women can transform themselves into entrepreneurs, imagine what millions of high school and university graduates around the world, empowered by enormously powerful technology, can do.
What is missing is an appropriate financial system. I have taken a step to fill the vacuum. I am now providing equity and debt financing to the children of Grameen borrowers by creating social business funds which become partners of the new entrepreneurs without any intention of making money from their businesses. These experiences have convinced me that unemployment is an artificially created issue. We should build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem where youth everywhere gets as much opportunities. Given this new environment, young people will soon realize that they are not job-seekers but job-creators. Most importantly, we need reorientation of our schools to produce young entrepreneurs who will come out of schools with business plans, enabling them to add new energy to the economy rather than adding worries to society.
I applaud the role played by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) drawing world attention to sports and athletics. This is the area where young people’s minds are captured to overcome odds and making impossible possible. Sports and athletics open up the imagination of young people, help them open up the door for self-discovery – the essential element of entrepreneurship. I hope IOC will also include in all its activities, programs for promotion of entrepreneurship, particularly, the spirit of social business among the young people. The focus on youth entrepreneurship that I am proposing will have important implications for state-charity based programs for the unemployed.
With the support from the global network attached to the IOC, if we can build this new orientation into the SDG 8, it will give a new perspective for looking at the new generation. This will mean global community officially recognizing that young entrepreneurs are ready to play a central role in driving human progress. With support from governments, academics, civil society, the private sector, IOC, the growing social business sector, and from citizens around the world, young entrepreneurs may lead us in the creation of a new society—one with no unemployment anywhere in the world.
(This article was first published in the May issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)