Recently I’ve attended a social business forum which was organized with the aim of raising awareness and spearheading new social business initiatives. After listening carefully to all the invited guests talking about how their projects started from an idea then grew into actions then businesses that eventually contributed helping the society as they wished to do, I felt some kind of a drive itching me to stand up and start doing something towards my society myself.
According to what they said this kind of “business” takes a lot of time and in some cases years to see the fruits of your work but it’s all worth it since they were doing something with passion and giving them satisfaction and inner peace.
“Life is too short to not live our dreams but those dreams are meaningless if we don’t start taking actions to achieve them» that was basically what almost everyone wanted to say and fortunately that’s what I believe in as well. In one specific moment of everyone’s speech when they started talking about the joy of helping others and improving their society and how it felt right although they’ve been criticized by their beloved and closest one because they dumped everything for just a good deed, I knew that I should face my fears and start to take act.
As every project I needed a plan, I asked myself what do I dream of, what is my extreme desire in this life and so on. Most of my thoughts were about Me, about how I wanted to travel and explore the world and achieve more adventures but none was about society, so how am I going to invest in social business with such selfish attitude! so I needed to change my attitude and ask myself what would I like and can do towards society that should be interesting and that I’m really passionate about.
Well clearly that took me some time, because most of the social projects were revolving around poverty and imporving people’s life standard for example providing job opportunities for the unfortunate etc. And by “etc.” I don’t intend to underestimate the effort done by all the social entrepreneurs around the world, quite the opposite I appreciate what they’re doing and I believe that they can be somehow considered kind of philanthropists.
Totally aware that jobs and health are the top primary and vital elements of a human being ecosystem for survival, I do believe that enhancing communities by providing job opportunities or setteling a better state for nutrition distribution system and other basic services for the disadvantaged class are very drastic and urgent plans to work on.
I also believe that drawing attention to the people not just to the government by involving them in such social issues will help building a stronger system to face such crisis, which is the main goal of social entrepreneurship.
After all the government is not a saint or a magician with a wand specially if we’re talking about developing countries, for some of those countries their critical situation can be either surviving an economic crisis or suffering from a political corruption (which in most cases is related eventually to an economic and administrative corruption as well ) or in other cases it could be breaking through a revolution or a series of demonstrations and strikes holding up the country from an urgent progress and crucial stability (like our case in Tunisia). Such situations need urgent and drastic solutions from all kind of different parts of the society, yes the government first but the citizen himself can contribute too.
Raising the awareness about this urgent contribution and setting up such kind of new social values is not easy, because we’re trying here to change an overall mindset and a whole culture of survival and if I may say “selfishness” which was implemented since ages!
So how can we convince people by investing their time in social entrepreneurship and by “investing their time” I don’t mean launching their own projects but simply supporting our causes or participating in the existing projects?
In order to do so we need to start spreading the idea of thinking “social”, it means believing in the spirit of sharing thereby team work and exchanging benefits (which by the way cannot be measured in terms of profit and loss, rather by the impact of the commited work). Such attitude will make the accomplished effort more efficient and sustainable, in the other hand working separately specially in the social development field where progress may take years and also if it was the same idea developed individually and apart will only lead it to either a failure or a little gain.
Eventually I discovered that in order to adopt the “social” attitude, one should see him/herself as a crucial part of the solution to some giving problem, furthermore the time he/she will spend cooperating and getting engaged in the establishment then hopefully the progress of the solution, it should render positive and motivating feedbacks so he/she can keep on going. And here we can see that the essential keys for the success of social ventures are building trust and promoting dialog to, if I may say, the investors since we’re dealing with moral and ethical goals rather than financial ones.
I hope it won’t be a shock to say that all what has been previously mentioned was just the introduction.
Because somehow I always felt responsible towards my country, yes the country not society, I always felt that I loved the country as a sovereign state, being loyal to the flag, to the name, to the state itself as one abstract entity but always kept saying like most people “I love my country and I would like to make it a better place but I really really hate the society” well sorry for the bad news ( yes am talking to myself and to you as well dear reader if that thought ever occurred to you) but in a few words a country is just the composition of a land ruled by the bunch of people living their, it’s as simple as that (or how it should be) so the concepts of country and society are inseparably related.
Well then I guess in order to make it a better place I need to make a better version of society or at least try.
As I mentioned previously, I was asking all these questions to myself in order to find somehow a way I can contribute in a social program or probably make my own but would I keep on working on it or I will get bored and stop after a while?
The first question I asked my self was “what does this society need the most?” and of course easy answers off the top of my head: better economy system and more human rights applied not just fancy laws left to oblivion (at least this is what seemed as priorities to me) but that question as absurd as it was to ask, it was badly constructed because it was limited to a couple of answers which are not necessarily what I can be interested in doing although their high importance. However our ecosystem is composed of a lot of factors, yes some are crucial and urgent but others are also important and fixing them would be efficient, if not on the short term but for sure on the long term of the process.
And since efficiency is a required goal to reach when you’re starting any kind of project, as well it is the sustainability, so the stronger your will to get engaged in a project the longer the estimated period of your investment is likely to be.
In this context it become clear to me that any kind of engagement in a social activity should revolve around something that we’re really fond of and that we’re good at (although that’s not truly a necessity as it is an additionnal factor, since you will be working in a team that will certainly help you)! And now here lays the real well formed question that you need to ask yourself “what does this society need AND that I can present?”
Now the answer is not as easy as I thought, maybe I have nothing to present, maybe I don’t like anything of which is existing but still feel I need to help and yet I know once I start helping by anything I will get bored eventually because this is not what I really want, or maybe I should start and in the meanwhile I’ll get inspired and find what I want while doing something else like all these famous social entrepreneurs had started. Well everything is possible and all these theories can be valid, but what if you had already a hidden passion that you thought it’s personal and it’s not helping the society, well let me tell you as much as this passion effect you and give you such drive to develop it, you should be certain that it’s working the same way on someone else and as personal as you think it is, it is NOT!
Well for me I had no passion about the society as seen from the aspect of bunch of individuals rather as an environment, to be honest I don’t like people that much, I prefer animals. And when I realized that I want to contribute to make a better environment, I was thinking am not really into cleaning the streets and keeping the green areas alive and stuff like that, well I have to admit that it’s a great idea and very noble but it’s not for me, you know it’s the kind of idea you like but you never do!
So I kept digging, discarding helping people and improving environment I’m left with animals, I’m crazy about them specially cats, which we have zillions of them in Tunisia specially in the urban areas (well to be honest they’re everywhere and in a huge numbers as well). These cute animals, very lazy yes, you can see them in every corner just laying there sleeping or planning on bringing new litters of dozens of kitties (which happens generally twice per year for every cat) to the life of misery without any food provider of shelter where to hide. Nowadays with the severe global warming effects, summer in Tunisia is just like entering a sauna (yes sauna not even a steam room)! it’s so hot that it reaches above 45 degrees during mid-summer and people just stay in their houses for the whole day and don’t come out only by night to avoid the burning heat outside, of course forgetting about these little creatures left alone outside dying by thirst and hunger!
Furthermore cats exist in a large number and people are so used to see them hanging around them that in the blocks, if we might say that, some kids and grown-ups as well are treating them more like toys rather than creatures, some would go extreme to hit them and torture them under the pretext that they’re always annoying them stealing food and intruding their houses but there is an explanation for everything.
Therefore I decided to take act or for the moment just make a plan of what I want to fix and how to solve this problem.
So first step was setting the exact problem:
Change the mind set of people and convince them to treat cats nicely, well I can but cats won’t make it easier because they will always intrude to people’s house for shelter and food.
Feeding cats in shelter but then what offer them to adoption? almost all of them are hybrid and not pure race so whoever want to adopt they will ask for a pure race otherwise they will just pick up one cat from the street ( since we cannot catch all of them or probably feed all of them)
Reducing the number of homeless cats, well I’m a PETA supporter, I can never harming animals BUT I can help eschew the phenomenon of their endless baby boom at least by reducing the birthrate! The same way we solve a demographic problem for human beings we will do for cats, of course it’s not like we’re not going to give them lessons how to use contraception but we will try to collect them and spaying or neutering the cat.
Most of the cats don’t go really far away from the region where they live (since they’re that lazy) so collecting them won’t be random but we will try to target each area aside.
Well it’s still a fresh baby idea to develop but I’m seriously considering starting my project during the upcoming 3 years, any comments are welcome of course. After all one will risk starting a project based on a dead idea so please feel free to interfere.