Bring the Davos dream to Pakistan

Davos: Location of the World Economic Forum 2017.

By Ammara Farooq Malik

The writer is the Founder of SEPLAA Enterprises and is a doctoral candidate focusing on social entrepreneurship, leadership and policy at the Business School Netherlands

Published: January 22, 2017

The world is evidently moving towards more globalisation with the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) development strategy and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) underway while Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterates the tone for global prosperity through promoting greater economic globalisation at the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) being held at Davos, Switzerland. But while the world is imploring for a more ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ as the theme of this year’s WEF17, what models will propel such ideals where globalisation is being possibly threatened by Trump in the US and shunned through Brexit in the UK?

While at the macro level, such multilateral and bilateral trade agreements are sure to bring benefits to the people of all countries involved, the fear is that at the micro level, many might still continue to suffer due to lack of access to opportunities and resources. One such promising model to tackle this issue, is focusing on developing social enterprises. The Social entrepreneurship movement has globally been growing steadily for the past 10 years keeping these very considerations in focus. What establishes social entrepreneurs on the global arena of change is the fact that their aspirations are linked to large-scale impact and not just a monetary return on their investment. This paves the way for such change makers to invest their time, energy, resources and innovative ideas into solving some of the most compelling problems of the world through sustainable methods.

Joseph E Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and author of numerous books on globalisation and economic inequality, remarked at Davos that one of the oldest questions still remaining unanswered was how to ensure an equal distribution of wealth in a world where capitalism booms.

Though this is a global predicament, the problem looms in Pakistan because of a number of factors including corruption, lack of education and professionalism, which attribute to the consistent growth of this phenomenon. The divide between the rich and the poor is growing at an exponential rate and the near future does not seem to provide much respite.

At this point in time where Pakistan is moving into an important economic trade corridor with China, perhaps investing in the development of social enterprises and improving labour practices might come as the closest answer to ensure that the fruits of several international agreements reach the masses. Unfortunately, many in Pakistan including the government are not aware of the great benefits of investing in the development and support of such a model as a social enterprise. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is developed with the emphasis being on the Companies Ordinance 1984 that supports traditional business models that are purely based on business or ‘Not for Profit’ companies under section 42 of the Ordinance. But while the new amendments to the Ordinance are being deliberated, the idea of including social enterprises under its purview to cover both ‘for profit’ and ‘not for profit’ social enterprises must also be considered with interest as it is relevant to promoting trade opportunities that are centered around the public good.

Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba, gave his ‘Three Thirties Theory’ at the second day of the WEF17 at Davos. In which he explained that the world’s focus should now be on the next ‘thirty’ years to ensure that the implications of technology are controlled, on those who are ‘thirty’ years old because that is the internet age and on those businesses which employ ‘thirty’ employees or less.

Clearly his theory was directed towards young entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs who rely heavily on technology to change the world.

With the world standing at a very decisive point in history, the time is ripe to try new ideas and focus on innovation and creativity to solve the world’s problems. We should not be afraid of implementing Plan B or C.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2017.

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