By Sally Bland
Jordan Times, Amman.
“Intelligence & Compassion in Action: The Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs by Lauren Speeth”
The point of departure for this book is that the world is not as it should be; nor does it have to be that way. The persistence of poverty, inequality, disease, environmental degradation and violence are well documented. The question is what to do about it. Lauren Speeth offers an inventive, carefully charted approach for those aspiring to be agents for change.
Her guidelines for social entrepreneurship, encased in Seven Pillars, go well beyond charity to empower both benefactors and beneficiaries, and actually solve problems. Hers is “a practical, working methodology to help create an alternative storyline that can turn apathy into action, and wilful blindness into clear vision”.
Substantial expertise and experience underpin the evolution of the Seven Pillars. Speeth holds degrees in psychology, business administration and ministry, added to her extensive IT know-how.
Wanting to be an agent for change, she established Elfenworks in 2005, “to identify issues that weren’t being effectively addressed, create change in new and different ways, and amplify successes through storytelling”.
The Foundation produces media content to promote improvements and equality via initiatives in film, music, education, management, law, finance, human development and social justice, in cooperation with other groups working in these fields.
At the start, Speeth sought the advice of former US president Jimmy Carter; she gives much credit to the successful example of the Carter Foundation’s work in peace making, human rights and the alleviation of suffering.
In the book’s dedication, she writes of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: “Their intelligence and compassion in action is unrivalled.”
It is this combination of intelligence and compassion that makes one an effective agent of change. Good intentions are not enough; one must also be cognisant of entrepreneurial principles, particularly the concepts of risk and initiative. “All strategic analysis used in the business world is relevant to the social entrepreneur,” but where “the business person sees competitors, the social entrepreneur may, in the best cases, see potential partners.”