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Ken Krogue is the co-founder of InsideSales.com. He was a longtime Republican, and his partner, Dave Elkington, was a longtime Democrat. Ken wrote an article about entrepreneurship and had it published on Forbes.com on September 11, 2012 to honor those who lost their lives on the same day 11 years earlier. He said that it was one of the most important pieces ever written.
In the article, Ken declared that he "votes entrepreneur" — not Democrat or Republican — and that both he and Dave have "abdicated our [partisan] roots."
He also wrote: "True entrepreneurs are the statesmen and stateswomen of business. They are owners. One hundred years ago Americans were 90% owners. They owned farms and ranches and shops. Now we are 90% employees."
As a proud American Republican, I don't intend to relinquish my partisan affiliation. I am not ashamed to hold my beliefs, and I respect those who are proud to hold their own beliefs whether they agree with mine or not.
However, in America, the hyper-partisanship has gotten entirely out of control. On Capitol Hill, our country is literally applying temporary solutions to decades-long crises only to find ourselves right back in the same situation mere months later. Our recent so-called solution to avoiding the fiscal cliff did nothing to address the real problem of our nation's ever-increasing deficit. It was like putting a Band-Aid on a stab wound with no disinfectant. Not only was it too small of a solution for the problem in the first place, failure to properly clean or treat the root of the problem will inevitably cause a pretty bad infection.
While Washington wages petty partisan fights aiming to win small battles, everyone in America — and arguably the world — continues to lose the war. Not a war of nuclear weapons but the war of an ailing worldwide economy.
Social ills plague our nation and our world, and our current "Band-Aid model" approach has not been working. Whether it's poverty, terrorism, or human trafficking, there are still too many causes of suffering in a world that is innovative enough to create the iPhone, GPS, and advancements by leaps and bounds in the field of medicine.
Enter "social entrepreneurship." Social entrepreneurship means recognizing a social problem, such as the global hunger crisis, and applying an entrepreneurial model to create an organization whose ultimate goal is not solely generating profit but also solving that social problem.
Ashoka is a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. It provides the best definition of social entrepreneurs: "Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. ... Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else. … There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur."
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, known for often aiming for the political center during his term as the 42nd president of the United States, wrote in the Financial Times early last year: "Charity alone will not solve the world’s problems. Capitalism can help and at the same time put people back to work. There has always been a gap between what the government can provide and what the private sector can produce, a gap charities have long helped to fill. But as our world and economies evolve, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to reconsider how to fill this gap — to rethink the relationship between economic and social challenges, so that benefits and opportunities are available to more people. … We are starting to see the success of this new approach in other countries and sectors as well, in the approach of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in companies such as Walmart, Google and Procter & Gamble that have shifted their corporate culture from promoting social responsibility to increasing shared value."
Former President George W. Bush's organization, the George W. Bush Institute, seeks to improve the human condition through education reform, global health, human freedom and economic growth. Bush promotes the need for innovative, practical, and measurable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, while upholding the guiding principles that freedom is universal; each human life is precious; to whom much is given, much is required; and the marketplace is the best way to allocate resources.
Many of the world's social ills can be solved with a capitalistic and market-based solution. But it will only happen if the adults take matters into their own hands. American lawmakers should take the helm of promoting social entrepreneurship in the most powerful city in the world — Washington, D.C.
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is an organization founded after Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, when both Bush and Clinton assisted the Haitian people in rebuilding their country. The funds were used to make grants, loans, and equity investments in organizations promoting job growth and smart, sustainable economic development.
By supporting, partnering with, and investing in both nonprofit and for-profit entities, they worked to leverage the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit, enabling people, communities and businesses to thrive and prosper. They did this by supporting microfinance institutions providing small and growing businesses with access to financing and business services, and by facilitating job training and workforce development.
As an example of successful social entrepreneurship, Clinton wrote in the Financial Times about the Digicel Group, which "not only employs 70,000 Haitians, they also rebuilt the famed 19th-century Iron Market bazaar, one of the capital’s landmarks, to create jobs for others, and give charitably to education to ensure that there will be a better educated, more employable workforce. Another example from Haiti is an innovative fund set up by the Carlos Slim Foundation and Frank Giustra to invest in entrepreneurs — giving them a hand up, not a handout."
Social entrepreneurship is on the rise in the United States and around the world. Perhaps the hyperpartisan battle in Washington can cease so that the grown-ups can lead the war.
Princella D. Smith is an American freelance contributor for Israel Hayom. She was a communications staffer to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and has also served as a communications director on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She is currently a graduate student at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.