Cape Town - In a world rife with inequality and
unemployment there is a crying need for a new breed of entrepreneur who can
combine profit with a social conscience, said acclaimed author and social
entrepreneur Wendy Luhabe.
Speaking at the Entrepreneurs Unite conference which took place in Stellenbosch
this week, Luhabe said: "The global economy is at a crossroads in most
parts of the world.
"We are experiencing an explosion of extreme wealth and inequality, and
the confluence of these two factors is making it impossible to tackle poverty
and address many vested interests in the economy."
Luhabe pointed out that the widening gap between the top 1% and the rest of
society - as well as the inequality of resource allocation and opportunity -
are at their highest levels since the time of the Great Depression. Little
wonder then that the World Economic Forum identified inequality as a global
risk for 2013.
But market forces, said Luhabe, do not exist in a vacuum. "We shape them
by the decisions that we make... we shape them with poor leadership or we even
shape them with moral bankruptcy."
She lauded Brazil - one of the world's fastest-growing economies - for shaping
market forces "in ways that have lowered inequality while creating more
opportunities and higher growth".
The worldwide trend of shrinking employment is not likely to change, said
"We need an economic revolution therefore that can produce a new dynamic
and innovative generation of entrepreneurs, but who in addition to creating
great enterprises is prepared to determine a new socioeconomic
The education system worldwide, said Luhabe, is "totally out of alignment
with the reality of the 21st century".
She identified inequality, unemployment and education as this century's biggest
"Time is running out," cautioned Luhabe. "The world needs a
different economic logic where human capital, social and environmental
objectives become a top priority."
Turning to Africa, Luhabe said the International Monetary Fund believes the
economy of the continent has the potential to outstrip Brazil's growth over the
next five years.
"Much of that growth will come from startups which will bring the mobile
internet to consumers" and businesses which until recently have not had
internet access, said Luhabe. She further identified e-commerce, health and
education as areas primed for growth.
"There is an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs that are changing
the face of Africa.... Moral of the story is therefore that the future of the
global economy will be shaped by entrepreneurs who are sensitive to the social
challenges that exist in their environment."
They will have the ability to create sustainable businesses which are
profitable yet at the same time address social challenges, said Luhabe.
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