“Unless the shackles can be dropped from trade, bombs will be dropped from the sky,” wrote economist Otto Mallery in Economic Union and Durable Peace in 1943. As conflict rises in the world’s hotspots, there is one idea that can reduce the bombs falling from the sky: the entrepreneurial mindset.
Now is the time to harness technology to bring free entrepreneurship education to low-income people around the world, and connect them to capital, markets, mentors, trade and each other. Give someone an app that links them to a worldwide community of entrepreneurs–and trade will hold far greater appeal than terrorism.
As the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), I’ve seen disenfranchised and disillusioned impoverished youth–vulnerable to recruitment by drug dealers or terrorist organizations–become resourceful, successful pillars of their communities after exposure to entrepreneurship education.
I’ve spent three decades on a mission to share this entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve met with entrepreneurs in more than 20 countries. The thread running through every meeting has been the triumph of the entrepreneurial spirit–that independent, brave, resourceful mindset developed in entrepreneurs. This spirit creates real and lasting bonds between people, bonds that reach beyond religious divides and cultural differences to create a universal experience of business ownership.
As a guest of the State Department, I visited Cambodia and Vietnam, where I was reminded of the tragic history of genocide in the region. I met businesspeople there who survived war and genocide, and were able to remake their lives with their entrepreneurial spirits. I’ve talked to survivors around the world of life-threatening disease, rape, torture, and to veterans of war. They all unite under the experience of entrepreneurship. Why not connect these brave businesspeople via technology to mentor up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and young people desperate to survive similar threats?
Finally, if we can use technology to connect entrepreneurs around the world, they may become a political force for good, as well, encouraging world leaders to design policies that support and encourage entrepreneurship, and help prevent conflict, war and genocide.
– Steve Mariotti is a prominent advocate for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education worldwide. He is the founder of the global nonprofit NFTE the author of hundreds on the transformative power of entrepreneurship, including his recent memoir, Goodbye Homeboy.