Compassion, Capitalism and Culture

By Mark RodgersIn Millennial Momentum, sociologists Morley Winograd and Michael Hais concluded that today’s “next” generation is rejecting traditional politics and government as the means to address social justice, and instead are pursuing social entrepreneurship, working outside government via business, technology and new forms of civil society to make a difference.In The Atlantic this summer, Ron Fournier observed that “while their parents and grandparents preferred to work alone, young Americans are team-oriented and seek collaboration. Wired to the world, they are more likely than past generations to see the globe’s problems as their own. Millennials are eager to serve the greater community through technologies, paradoxically, that empower the individual.”Millennials are also the most culturally saturated and connected generation in history, so for advocacy groups the challenge of reaching and activating them is compounded.  From our perspective, a well-told story in which they are an “actor” is essential to draw them in.It took some people (not us) by surprise this summer, therefore, when Bono announced at a Georgetown speech that government “aid is just a stopgap.  Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”We have been working with the ONE campaign on a number of initiatives that focus on economic development, most recently its Electrify Africa campaign. If you talk to business leaders considering investing in Africa, one of the most ubiquitous concerns is access to affordable and reliable electricity. Businesses often pay many times more than their US counterparts for electricity that comes from dirty, inefficient diesel generators. According to the World Bank, 49% of firms in sub-saharan Africa cite electricity as a major constraint to growth, compared with 30% who cited transportation.As Bono pointed out: “In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid. Free enterprise is a cure.”The marketing firm that Clapham launched called MORE Partnerships was a producer of the 2013 Global Citizen Festival in October and brought in Hewlett Packard as the official technology partner to creatively invite Millennials to be part of the solution.  We designed and executed a holistic partnership between the HP LIFE program, Global Citizen and musician Jake Clemons, highlighting the role that entrepreneurship and innovation play in creating jobs and opportunity in developing economies.People living in extreme poverty don’t lack ambition or ideas. They do often lack access to skills and opportunities to convert that ambition into a higher quality of life. HP LIFE e-Learning for Entrepreneurs is a free online tool that allows anyone, anywhere to learn the essential business and IT skills needed to start their own business, create jobs, and help build a more prosperous society.Saxophonist, artist, writer, and global citizen – Jake Clemons has a heart for helping local communities thrive. In fact, he lives for it, seeking out local artists, businesses, and other hidden gems as he tours the world. In the middle of launching his solo career he decided to become a voice for entrepreneurs around the world who are committed to transforming their communities.Global Citizen integrated the HP LIFE program into its call to action and collaborated with Jake to launch a contest. This contest allowed Global Citizens to vote for their favorite HP LIFE entrepreneur who was/is making a difference in their community. By taking a moment to vote and share their actions with friends, participants were rewarded with an exclusive opportunity – a download of Jake’s first single of his solo career.The highest number of votes went to Bano Fatima. She was honored onstage at the Global Citizen Festival by Jake Clemons and HP representatives.In addition to being featured on the Global Citizen platform and the festival stage, Global Citizens were encouraged to use the free tools available at HP LIFE to turn their own world-changing ideas into reality.  The results were stunning:

  •  1 billion+ editorial impressions for HP
  •  5 million+ Twitter impressions
  •   More than 23% of those who saw HP LIFE Entrepreneur pages shared the posts.

This was a win (for the poor), win (for the HP’s efforts to promote its innovative CSR initiative), win (for the artists who contributed their time and talents to raise awareness and offer hope).As Bono said: “Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.”  We and millions of Millennials agree, and plan on doing something about it!