We must think about if our output is wealth for wealth’s sake, where does that leave our world, our human community, our humanitarian systems, and the ecosystem?

Altering Perspectives with Humane Entrepreneurship

In the introduction to our paper, “Humane Entrepreneurship: How Focusing on People Can Drive a New Era of Wealth and Quality Job Creation in a Sustainable World,” Dr. Ki-Chan Kim, Dr. Song-Tae Bae and I posed the question, “Where — exactly — is the wealth of nations?” We lead from this specific question because it demands that we alter our perspective before even engaging with a theory of Humane Entrepreneurship (HumEnt). This purposeful act of expansion and openness allows readers to set aside their preconceived ideas and judgments that may prevent them from fully connecting with and receiving the ideas of HumEnt.

Returning to the idea of wealth, we must discuss how this expansion and change take place and what these might resemble. Going back to the basics, we will return to the World Bank definition published over 10 years ago describing wealth as “a complementary indicator to gross domestic product (GDP) for monitoring sustainable development in a country.” This definition demonstrated to the masses that wealth is not solely about specific amounts, a surplus of financial or physical resources, nor richness. Wealth now has grown to include the management of “a broad portfolio of assets,” including those that are “produced, human, and natural resources.”

As we know today, it is not just about the outcome of doing business, achieving performance outcomes, or leading a nation. Still, rather global trends tell us that it is more about how we carry out these activities. The recent and ever-evolving health and humanitarian crises have very much illuminated that if we do not make this necessary shift to achieving a virtuous and continuous ‘how,’ our world will not be able to continue caring for and housing the same amount of inhabitants that it does currently. Therefore, in other words, we must think about if our output is wealth for wealth’s sake, where does that leave our world, our human community, our humanitarian systems, and the ecosystem?

That is why we first must push for wealth to include the effort and resulting outcomes of the pursuit of sustainable development, as the World Bank indicated, as well as to initiate a conversation about protecting what we already have.

We have fallen so quickly and so easily to the charm of agile development that we have forgotten the value of the resources that we have. Luckily, Humane Entrepreneurship calls for heightened importance in the person and the community, so that with HumEnt we can begin to practice frugal innovation, which demands us to look at what we have, admit that it is enough, and use that to strive to provide equitable products and services for those who our system has systematically excluded.

Neither the evolution of our definition of wealth nor the complete acceptance and transition towards HumEnt will come first. These are two noble goals that we can think of as working collectively. Their combination will help us reframe and repurpose our business pursuits so that they have higher outcomes that involve sustainable and equitable change for all.

Let’s get started.

Article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Department of Management, GW School of Business