"Is this it? For whom exactly am I working so hard? What has been my added value in this world?" Questions you might recognize.
In the western world a growing number of business professionals have achieved almost all of their goals in terms of wealth, career, standard of living and status. Their life work has been completed. But now what? A mid-life crisis is on its way...
Surprisingly, some of these professionals have found renewed inspiration in a concept that doesn't sound very enriching at first: sharing. They have decided to share their knowledge and experience to empower people with a very intense intrinsic motivation: social entrepreneurs from developing countries. But why are these social entrepreneurs such inspiring people? The motivation of these social entrepreneurs comes purely from the inside and is highly contagious: create as many jobs as possible for the disadvantaged, or have the most positive environmental impact.
The 'Gandhi of the carpet industry' in India is Nand Kishore Chaudhary. He believed in utilizing the unused hands of skilled artisans in rural India. He founded a rug company with two looms in 1978, which has now grown to a multinational employing and empowering over 40.000 people: Jaipur Rugs. The leadership philosophy of N. K. Chaudhary has already inspired many people across the globe: "Leadership means losing oneself. The more someone loses himself, the more he can understand about society. The more I lose my ego, the more I can see the talent in my people and the society."
A great example of a more recently started inspiring social entrepreneur in Kenya is Amos Harrison Nguru. After losing all his savings in the start-up of a renewable energy company, he persisted and started again in 2010 with Afrisol Energy. The company has turned societal problems as the lack of firewood, abundance of cow manure and expensive fertilizers, into a unique business opportunity. They've already installed 60 biogas installations on farms which are working on cow manure, provide gas for entire families and on top of that deliver excellent fertilizer as a by-product.
However, after having started their company with their hearts full of passion and drive, these entrepreneurs sometimes find themselves confronted with a lack of knowledge and experience which holds them back from making the most of their opportunities. And that is where the western business professionals, with their abundance of knowledge and experience, step in.
Mr. Chaudhary and Mr. Nguru have been supported in their challenges by western business professionals. Mr. Nguru found focus in his growth strategy and valuable connections with investors in the Netherlands and Kenya. For Mr. Chaudhary and Jaipur Rugs a brand strategy was developedto increase market share and profitability. The business professionals involved were not only greatly inspired by the social power of business but also experienced an unmatched personal development. That is what sharing does.
So, if you think you've seen it all, you might consider to get infected with the 'sharing-virus'. Find true inspiration and discover your added value in connecting with a social entrepreneur. By sharing yourself and your unique knowledge, you'll reveal talents in yourself and others you couldn't even imagine.
works as marketing & communications manager at SharePeople, a social enterprise which supports social entrepreneurs from developing countries with business challenges. By connecting them with western business professionals, knowledge is shared locally, while both parties develop themselves personally and professionally. He intends to inspire people to become 'drivers of change'.
All views expressed within this article are those of the writer and not of the BBC.
published at BBC World Challenge 2011 website
Please watch the power of social entrepreneurship from Jaipur Rugs a.o. in Drivers of Change: