There will always be problems that need to be solved. While the Government has its role to play in making these problems go away, it has become evident that if sustainability is what we want, social entrepreneurship is a viable solution. This is how we can create the change we seek.
– By Damilola Oyewusi
In Nigeria, the progress made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been snail paced and mostly cosmetic. From the misappropriation of funds to ill-structured projects, there are many reasons we can point at for the country’s failure to show any signs of hitting her goals anytime soon.
Outside of the public sector, Non-Governmental Organizations and other not-for-profit bodies have also contributed their quota. However, sourcing for grants and donations to keep up with social good is not the easiest venture. It gets even worse for young people who have a heart for doing social good. While those with connections are able to encourage traditional corporate organizations to fund good causes as Corporate Social Responsibility, the focus is usually on the ROI, be it in terms of goodwill (tax rebate) or preferably, figures.
In addition to the financial challenges and ingrained in the problem of ill-structured projects, is the fear of maintaining the circle of an aid-dependent generation. While the ‘haves’ may have some moral responsibility to be of help to the ‘have nots’, it is also important to avoid encouraging a sense of helplessness laced in an entitlement mentality. No society can sustain a top to bottom approach of providing solutions to problems that fester beyond the wallets and pots to the mindset of people.
The solutions have to be more holistic, combining features that would solve these two major problems of funding and inclusivity. To have a chance at achieving the SDG goals, we must find a way to include the stakeholders directly affected by each problem in the development of their respective solutions, in a way that can be sustained on the resources immediately within their reach. This is a key offering of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (let’s call it S.I.E. hereafter). And to see more and more young people take up the challenge of creating social enterprises is not only heartwarming but most welcome.
S.I.E. can provide an integrated solution to the root causes of many social problems across the state. In its true form, the horizontal engagement of stakeholders not only spurs a culture of responsibility, it is also a way to erode the entitlement mentality. Social innovation will put a spotlight on opportunities hidden within social and economic problems and empower everyday individuals to be their own wind keepers with the key goal being sustainability.
This does not render the public sector’s role redundant in socio-economic development. Rather, it gives the citizens the right tools to know, the right questions to ask and the type of support to demand. Grooming a citizenry that is informed, genuinely concerned and actively involved in improving their own standard of living will turn out to be the most effective way of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Damilola Oyewusi is a Content and Digital Marketing Strategist working in the Social Innovation sector. She uses the power of strategic content and the dynamic nature of marketing communications to influence and amplify life-changing innovative solutions to social problems.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark magazine. Find the magazine here to read more articles.