Up in the air

I can understand and appreciate all new tech advances, still I can’t believe how a plane works. It’s mind boggling for me to fathom that first commercial aircraft took off in 1914, which is more than hundred years ago!

I just arrived in Hague, Netherlands to attend a workshop for Civil Society leaders, invited by Open Government Partnership. (more on that in a future post)

I had the opportunity to fly Airbus 380 for the first time in my life. Honestly, it’s like a pilgrimage for a traveller-the double decker plane. At Dubai, before boarding, everyone was taking a picture of the giant. I just observed the magic and tried to figure out how on earth can this kind of elegant beast could be a reality.

I love window seats, and I take pics of earth from up above.

When I’m up in the air, when the world I inhabit zooms out in to a birds eye view, I realize the baggage I carry. From up above the earth is a gorgeous globe of beauty, layered in unique facets, mingled with cotton like clouds. It clears my mind from the debris of day to day struggles. How come we struggle so hard to have basic rights for humans. Why so much greed? I reflect on my self. What a privileged life I have, surrounded by great people. But why we struggle so much in meeting rooms to collaborate on a worthy cause?

Then my crazy mind poured over A380 again. Despite been the most elegant beast, it has its’ own share of issues. Production delays crippled by supply issues may lead to close A380 business completely.

A great solution to air travel hangs on the line. So is our struggle for social enterprises. Though looks sexy from outside, we carry our scars. I will be meeting 20 like minded civil society leaders for the next 3 days. I’m excited to be here. I’m curious to know how they do things differently in their countries.

Can Social Enterprises attract millennials?


Today at the Global Entrepreneurship Community conference, I heard 2 questions from delegates that stood out because of its relevance and intensity.

‘Why we have so much focus on tech startups, where are the non tech entrepreneurs ?’

‘Can social enterprises survive in a commercially oriented, non compassionate environment?’

One thing for sure- to thrive, or even survive, all kinds of entrepreneurs need technology. Take a handy crafts maker in a rural village in Sri Lanka. He cannot get a good price, because he doesn’t know how to place her products in a e-commerce portal. Even if she did, she won’t be able to receive money. Paypal is not providing inward remittances in Sri Lanka. There are alternatives such as Skrill, but very few people know it.

Social enterprises who can help the non tech entrepreneurs are struggling to recruit millennials who are good at tech game. Contrary to the popular belief that millennials are socially conscious, they are not dreaming about joining a social enterprise after graduation. It’s simple economics – tech, finance and services sector provide benefits that are too lucrative to say no. This is the reality and we should face it.

So how can a social enterprise attract good talent at a lower budget?

First, cut down the hierarchy. Make communication fluid and easy. Let their voices be heard loud and clear. Secondly, provide meaningful work for them to learn, fall and grow. Offer clear career progression. Thirdly, make sure you coach them. Of course, let them do the work, but don’t just see them trip over, be there to raise them up.

Finally, be lean in all things. Don’t get too many people onboard. Just get the right set of people . Throw challenges at them, so that your small team grows on each other, each day.