“Creativity is very important and that gives rise to entrepreneurship but after the creative force you also want to make sure you have the mentorship that can guide you so that you stay successful.”
“Our mission is to produce state-of-the-art knowledge sharing and educational resources.”
“The pandemic acted as a catalyst and a turbocharger for redefining, redesigning, recalibrating not only the economy but also education and the healthcare ecosystem.”
“We showed that certain industries were hit more than others. Women were more impacted and women owners had to take care of other family members.”
- There is a strong focus on ‘social entrepreneurship’, ‘impact investments’ and ‘human transformation’ in the new global economy.
- Small and medium businesses around the world were greatly impacted by the pandemic, especially women-owned businesses in the emerging market.
- In the new digitized economy, jobs will be completely changed, some will disappear, new ones will appear, many will be automated or digitized at least partially
- Human capital around the world will have to upskill and reskill or it is going to be very difficult to survive in the digital era.
- Women need to build their own style through their passion for ideas. They need to get the right mentors but also find their own personal journey.
Our topic today is global but has special relevance to India’s future – social entrepreneurship and new human-centred global economy. We are seeing a strong focus on ‘social entrepreneurship’, ‘impact investments’ and ‘human transformation’ in the new global economy. Our guest today has vast experience and knowledge in these areas. Dr Ingrid Vasiliu-Feltes is the Founder and CEO of the Science Enterprise Entrepreneurship and Investment Institute (SEEII) as well as Co-Founder, Chairwoman and Vice President of Innovation for Pharma Trade Network (IPTN).
The SEEII was created to be the main catalyst for scientific and digitally driven entrepreneurship and is involved internationally and works specifically with emerging markets such as Africa, India, Latam.
“Our mission is to produce state-of-the-art knowledge sharing and educational resources,” explains Dr Ingrid. “We also wish to be the premier data intelligence, data analytics and data-driven decision support partner for all stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With the IPTN, our team strongly believes that technological innovation combined with creativity can also make an immense difference in science and entrepreneurship around the world.”
The term ‘impact investment’ and ‘social entrepreneurship’ are often interpreted in different ways in different parts of the world. How did Dr Ingrid define them, I want to know. “Impact investment focuses on providing a specific class of assets aiming to help social, cultural and environmental issues that we’re struggling with such as those outlined by the United Nations SDG agenda,” she explains. “So, impact investing is essential and complements social entrepreneurship but it is an investment method. Social entrepreneurship speaks about our efforts to promote entrepreneurs and small businesses that create opportunities for us to impact social aspects such as poverty, lack of access to education, lack of access to finance, women empowerment and all the other crucial elements that are outlined in the UN’s SDG agenda.”
Dr Ingrid was recently awarded the World Excellence Award for Social Entrepreneurship and I asked her to talk about the same. “I think the multiple activities that I’m involved in for the World Business Forum led to that award. We are fortunate within the forum to offer not only a business school but also a lot of educational and advocacy initiatives that span across the world. We are present in more than 137 countries which gives us a global reach. We also have a research institute that does important work. Last year we did a global survey on how the pandemic influenced women across the world – small and medium business owners and women entrepreneurs.”
The survey Dr Ingrid mentioned intrigued me and I asked her to talk about some of its highlights. “We were able to confirm that even small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs across the world that are part of angel investment networks were very hard hit. We showed that certain industries were hit more than others. Women were more impacted than men and specifically women owners had to take care of other family members. They became the pillar for many other elements that happened during the pandemic such as taking care of family members, taking care of the children, and becoming the primary educator for the children. There was no time for them to take care of their business anymore. Another key finding was that they felt that access to funding was much more difficult for them than before. Women also felt that they lacked some of the skills – the digital literacy and fluency that was so essential to survive in the pandemic. They asked us for more access to training to have this kind of expertise and experience so that in this globalized digitalized hyper-virtualized world they can also succeed.”
Did she see a difference in woman owners in the western world versus the emerging world? “They were equally hard hit but the proportion was different,” Dr Ingrid replied. “The percentage and the depth of financial difficulties was more prominent in emerging markets.”
Would it be fair to say that both impact investment and social entrepreneurship are about harnessing the power of business to improve the world and make the global economy more human-centred? How would she envision applying this thinking in India? “I’ve been involved with several organizations in India and you have amazing entrepreneurship going on but I also feel that you need the right support. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Global Council for Promotion of International Trade (GCPIT). It is an independent not-for-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to strengthening prosperity and human welfare in the global economy. We work with lots of start-ups that are women-owned. It’s across the board and all the industries and we help them with coaching, training, access to finance, education, making sure that they understand how to interact with other global markets, and learn from each other. Peer-based learning is a very important aspect for us. The general mission of the organization is to implement major national strategies and promote foreign trade. At a larger level, we also encourage organizations from different countries to work with us and help the start-ups.”
Talking about the incubation centres in the ecosystem, in her experience, how can we make it more robust and successful in India? “Creativity is very important and that gives rise to entrepreneurship but after the creative force, you also want to make sure you have the mentorship that can guide you so that you stay successful. Learning from others that have done that before, and successfully, is priceless.”
During the pandemic, we saw the importance of being globally prepared, and it has also given us an opportunity to reboot the economy, to reboot the environment and reboot the education system. Now just as you have the United Nations SDGs, did Dr Ingrid think it makes sense for the global community to come up with a uniform educational model? “I do believe like you that although the pandemic has left a tremendous economic and social impact, it also acted as a catalyst and a turbocharger for redefining, redesigning, recalibrating not only the economy but also education and the healthcare ecosystem,” agreed Dr Ingrid. “Not only do I believe that a novel global educational ecosystem would be helpful, I think it’s an imperative. Jobs will be completely changed, some will disappear, new ones will appear, many will be automated or digitized at least partially. We have great human capital around the world but if we don’t upskill and reskill the workforce and future generations it’s going to be very difficult to survive in the digital era. It’s essential for legal frameworks and regulatory guidelines policy to catch up with technology so that we can actually make these changes.”
What advice would Dr Ingrid give young women of India? “I would encourage them to believe in themselves and not listen to anybody who tells them something can’t be done because I was told many times that I can’t do 99.9 per cent of the things that I’m doing now. Do what you think you need to do, get the coaching and mentorship but keep with your idea, your passion, your beliefs and go for it. Keep your integrity and find your own path. Develop your own type of personality and persona in business as well as in your personal life. Copying other people’s paths is not going to work if you want long-term success. You need to find your own personal journey. Always strive to excel in everything you do no matter what you do. I always joke that it doesn’t matter if you like to put stickers on the wall but you need to excel at that, you need to be the best because if you wake up every day and want to just be mediocre or just good enough, I don’t think that’s going to work for long-term success. You impact other people’s lives when you strive for excellence.”
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