When entrepreneurs turn their innovative thinking outward, rather than inward, humanity in need can truly benefit.
All too often we read or hear about the latest achievements by self-serving thought leaders and “innovators.” It was heartening therefore to see real leadership in action at a recent presentation made to the Chicago MIT Enterprise Forum by David Ormesher, CEO of Closerlook.
David’s remarkable journey into the world of social responsibility began and continues through his volunteer work with the Global Relief and Development Partners (GRDP). This organization connects accomplished entrepreneurs from the United States to their counterparts in Rwanda, a small eastern African country ravaged by a tragic past.
One such story of where GRDP is making a real difference is that of Gahaya Links, a small business with great ambitions formed by two sisters, Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana. Gahaya Links employs over 4,000 rural women who weave intricate baskets. Basket weaving has a long tradition in Rwanda. Randy Rollinson, a strategy consultant and CEO of LBL Strategies, became an executive mentor to Joy and Janet. He works closely with Gahaya Links to audit and make recommendations on their financial model.
Woven baskets from Gahaya Links are on the shelves of Macy's in New York City.
The outcome from these one-on-one mentoring relationships is not only uplifting impoverished lives, it’s showing that another real currency of value is in play: The transfer of innovative thinking and processes is valued by the Rwanda entrepreneurs who have the innovative capacity within themselves to build something from their investment in shared learning and insight.
And this global currency of value is a fair trade.
As David related, the lives of entrepreneurs from the U.S. have been transformed forever. For many, making a meaningful difference in lives has trumped building the valuations of their own companies.
When social entrepreneurship can provide sustainable solutions to overcome the challenges of a small basket weaving company, it can make a world of difference.
Image Source: Riccardo Gangale for The New York Times