The desire and the power to give back to the world through entrepreneurship is a common motivator for many people that start their own business. The impact of business owners giving back is seen everyday. After all, where do you think the Gates Foundation got all of its money? Love him or hate him, is not Bill Gates the ultimate entrepreneur?
A recent article in USA Today shows that you don’t have to have the bank account of the Gates family to give back. Diane Stevens believed an account from a friend of war-torn Sierra Leone was a personal call to action. As the owner of Cole Stevens Salon and Day Spa in Greenbelt, Maryland, she was particularly struck by the story of a hair stylist who works all day on one leg because the other had been amputated, assumedly from injuries sustained in war-related activities. She was struck with an idea: she and three other stylists from her salon raised money to travel to Sierra Leone to teach cosmetology skills to 300 women. For a country which is ranked second-to-last in the world for development, its citizens pride themselves on their appearance, especially their hair. As a result, the program was well received.
I am convinced that business is the only available vehicle for positive global change and, dare I say, world peace. Governments won’t do it – they’ll continue to protect their own interests. Businesses realize the value of global stability and business owners, in general, are driven to do something BIG. What a perfect match!
Providing women with the skills needed to get into entrepreneurship provides opportunities for economic advancement and empowerment. With their continued rise to positions of leadership, especially in the Middle East, women hold the power to change the dynamics of the world.
Don’t just take my word for it: the women in the Middle East are starting to see it as well. When I was in Tunisia a few years ago as a US Delegate to an Arab Business Women’s Summit, we were treated to a concert by a traditional Arab musical group. As they played Arabic folk songs, the women from the 15 Arab countries represented danced and sang together. At the end of the night, a woman from Oman walked up to me and my friend and pointed at us, declaring “WE will be the ones to bring peace.” She got it.