I woke up early and made myself a bowl of oats with mixed nuts and raisins, poured a cup of hot milk, and headed towards a two-day conference on Entrepreneurship and wealth creation. Being a writer, I envisioned to come out with an article from the deliberations at the conference. My mind was staring blank. I had nothing to write.
I start jotting something on my notebook but just couldn’t cut to the chase. Many writers have been in this position. You know exactly what to write but in a much more real sense, you have no idea on what to write about. I didn’t even know where the article was going. I just hoped I would find it somewhere along the way. And I did! One speaker piqued my mind.
He said, when a billionaire prays, he tells God, “There are so many problems in the world, and your people are suffering enough. Give me an idea to create solutions to some of those problems, even if I will alleviate the suffering of just a billion-person!” This was a trivial, I thought, but again it made so much sense. To think big. To pray big.
Most entrepreneurs become successful when they spot a need in the market that affects lots of people. Their thirst for solving problems facing humanity propels them to make fortunes of wealth from helping people.
Entrepreneurs have a conviction that it is possible to solve today’s most pressing problems, and this conviction drives them to do better.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They achieve success basing on how big of a problem they are solving and if they can scale its solution. Solving ‘a billion-person problem’ is the craze now. The bigger the problem, the bigger your solution should be. You will help reduce human suffering and contribute to world peace. The world will thank you for your brains. Most world billionaires got there by working towards a cause in their businesses.
Global grand challenges
Being an entrepreneur means taking crazy chances. Having a big appetite for risk. Giving sweat and blood to grow your venture. It is putting in the work, people! Toiling! You walk into situations where people are stuck, not knowing what they are dealing with, and they will be looking to you to lead them to a great outcome. A solution!
To start off in solving a billion-person problem, entrepreneurs should understand the kind of problems that affect at least a billion people. Humanity is now awakening at the backdrop of numerous problems plaguing the world and threatening its very existence. According to UN Global Issues Overview 2018, pollution has ravaged through cities with data indicating that it causes one out of six deaths worldwide every year and leaving others with life threatening complications. For instance, breathing the air in Mumbai, India for just 1 day is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes.
Humans generated over 44 million tonnes of e-waste in 2017. Imagine the number today! Oceans are chocking with plastics, killing a million seabirds and millions of mammals every year. Huge volumes of pesticides leach in the soil and water sources, a potential hazard when the water is used for drinking. Hear this, for every 1 million tonnes of oil shipped, about 1 tonne is spilled, contaminating the sea water. How much oil is spilled every day?
Population pressure on natural resources affects over seven billion people in the world today. It is estimated that by 2025, more than half of world population will be facing water-based vulnerability, hunger and severe food shortage, poverty and severe malnutrition. Life expectancy in developed countries is already taking a hit. Increased greenhouse gases due to massive deforestation has increased global warming and climate change putting the entire planet on death row.
The tropical rain forests of South America contribute about 20 per cent of world’s oxygen yet they are disappearing at a rate of 4 hectares per year through massive logging and forest fires. According to the 2018 UN report, the world is grappling with migration and refugee issues, peace and security, ocean and the law of the sea, human rights, international law and justice, ending poverty, democracy, health, ageing, big data for SDGs, children, youth, democracy, gender equality et cetera.
From these problems, stems issues such as electoral fraud; social issues e.g. LGBTQI adoption, abortion and euthanasia, domestic policy issues, gun control and social security; healthcare issues such as drug price regulation and marijuana legalisation; foreign policy issues such as terrorism and foreign aid; economic issues such as taxes and international trade wars; and technology issues such as cyber-security et cetera. All these are problems affection over a billion-person and as an entrepreneur, you can’t lack a problem to solve and make money while at it.
Greater good for a greater number
Entrepreneurs have a conviction that it is possible to solve today’s most pressing problems dubbed as the global grand challenges. Their ambition and optimism stem from innovative technologies and leverage on tech’s capacity to create real and affordable solutions to billions of people within shorter time spans.
In Kenya, for example, M-Pesa has served to alleviate the problems of a chronically under-banked population by leveraging on efficiency on money transfer. There are hundreds of other AgriTech, FinTech, EduTech solutions that have been created by young innovative Kenyans to help reduce the problems facing humanity, some of which are scalable and can even be implemented on global fronts.
Humanity has the resources to solve immediate basic needs as well as anticipate and mitigate future risks. For example, if you solve water challenge, or the pollution challenge; the health challenge becomes easier to handle. If you solve international trade challenge such as regional trade barriers, and border regulations, it equally addresses the economic challenges such as over taxation.
Solving global food challenge will also call for a solution of doing so in an environmentally friendly manner so as not to cause more pollution.
This is a frontier for entrepreneurs to grow their wealth. They should come up with system-wide innovations designed for net optimal outcomes; greater good for a greater number.