The theme of the 2013 Annual Meeting is ‘resilient dynamism’ – but what exactly does it mean? From a purely economic perspective, ‘resilient’ may be understood to signify the ability to withstand market shocks and pressures, and ‘dynamism’ could imply the tenacity and creativity required to rise above these challenges.

However, these terms can equally be applied within our context as social entrepreneurs – albeit with a slightly different meaning: rather than strengthening markets, we are strengthening communities; our capital is people, not euros or dollars.

Speaking ahead of this year’s Annual Meeting, Professor Schwab says that “future growth requires bold vision and bolder action” – a statement which in a way sums up what we are trying to do as social entrepreneurs. By growth, do we just mean increasing GDP, market shares or consumption, or do we mean the growth of people’s well-being and happiness? If we mean the latter, then it is certainly a bold vision – and one that necessitates bold action. This goal lies far beyond the reach of any business or organisation – it can only be achieved through working together efficiently.

Is this a naïve approach? I would argue that it is much more naïve to believe that success or failure can be reduced to a set of economic data. The success of political, business or non-profit leaders has to instead be measured against a broader set of indicators.

If we genuinely want to change the world, to fight poverty, to take steps towards a fairer society, we have to change the way we think. We need to think collectively, moving beyond the ego-driven interests which are so ingrained within the current business mindset. We need to think beyond our own organisations and brands, even our own sector, and work as a team towards a common goal. We should see each other not as competition, but instead as allies in the fight for social justice.

This is embodied in the way that streetfootballworld operates as a network of community organisations together with global partners including corporates, governments, foundations and philanthropists.

One concrete example of how this can work is ‘20 Centres for 2010’ – a joint ongoing project by FIFA and streetfootballworld to build 20 health, education and sport centres across the African continent. For more details on this project, please read my next blog post which will be published to coincide with my participation in the open forum on ‘Mega sporting events: In whose interest?’

We believe that football can show the way ahead due to the widespread passion it inspires, its huge economic potential, and its capacity to reach people across all levels of society throughout the world. But all this alone is not enough – there needs to be a willingness at all levels to engage, to collaborate, and to create opportunities for future generations.

In our work as social entrepreneurs, therefore, we must be resilient – because we are working together in the face of social challenges, inequalities, and often resistance to our way of thinking. We must be dynamic – because we have a bold vision, and we are taking bold action to realise it. The increasingly prominent role of social entrepreneurs at Davos is a sign that these ideas are slowly but surely gaining acceptance.

 

Author: Jürgen Griesbeck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, streetfootballworld, Germany; Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Europe, 2011

Organisations all over the world work with football to empower communities, addressing issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, social integration, and peace building. The streetfootballworld network currently unites 94 such organisations across 61 countries. Its mission is to change the world through football. streetfootballworld believes in the unique power of football to change lives and bring people together behind a common goal. streetfootballworld connects its network members with partners from the worlds of sport, business, politics and philanthropy to bring global power to local development initiatives