Luhabe: World needs economic revolution

Feb 15 2013 15:21
Eugenie du Preez
Wendy Luhabe at the Entrepreneurs Unite conference

Wendy Luhabe at the Entrepreneurs Unite conference. (Supplied)

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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 Luhabe.

"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 contract." 

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 timebombs.

"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.

 - Fin24

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economy  |  inequality



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