by Megan Edelman…
Leaving commerce to the supervision of the local community can have its drawbacks. It is clearly beneficial to have the local community successfully sustaining the trades and businesses of the region, however at times assistance is needed due to a lack of resources, knowledge and capital. When large corporations may decide to expand to more rural areas the citizens of the community can be put in jeopardy. Utilizing the existing community resources and empowering individuals to work for themselves is the socially smart approach. With the example of Wal-Mart there has been many examples where Wal-Mart stores have moved into suburban or rural communities putting hundreds of specialty local-run stores out of business (Anderson, 2012). When considering local investment in regards to the concept of social entrepreneurship, businesses must consider the triple bottom line. It is good business to be inclusive and it is smart business to utilize the resources already in place. The challenge for management in these positions is evaluating whether or not the local capital is capable or working cohesively with the mission of a company. This is a major issue or risk; can the local community succeed? And if so how can they complete with this global market?
Depending where on the globe we are observing, many parts of the developing world will lack the human capital, knowledge, education, availability and resources to mange their own economy. In turn, such efforts exist to empower these local communities and help them learn to sustain themselves. Also organizations may work as a partnership with the local businesses to help them reach optimal results. A travel company called Intrepid Travel offers adventure trips all around the globe. All of their ground staff on each trip is local, all accommodations used are locally owned and all food and applicable excursions are offered by local operators. This avoids the issue of revenue leakage and keeps all funds within the community or country (Intrepidtravel.com). The local proprietors themselves probably could not sustain without the influx of the Intrepid clientele.
With an organization called EGBOK (Everything’s Going to be OK) they take regional teenage orphans from Cambodia and Southeast Asia and train them in different areas of the hospitality field. Then large hotel chains like Starwood or Hyatt hire these graduates and place them in hotels around the Southeast Asia region (EGBOK Mission). Organizations like this are the intermediaries that are needed at times to help the local communities and the local people create and keep jobs.
Sometimes these relationships are absolutely necessary, even for legal purposes. With the example of the NY Times article, “Partnership Preserves Livelihoods and Fish Stocks”, the local fishermen and the Nature Conservancy teamed up and worked together to reach mutual goals. The Nature Conservancy needed to protect certain endangered fish and the fisherman needed to keep their lively hood and support their families. By coming to a mutual agreement both can benefit from this relationship and enhance the local economy. From the local business perspective it may be difficult to function successfully without the assistance of intermediaries and still stay within code/guidelines/laws, etc. For the Nature Conservancy they saw an avenue to use the fishermen’s information to their advantage from eCatch (Kaufman, 2011). This relationship helped both parties in the end. The Nature Conservancy is not sacrificing their mission to work with these local fishermen, even though they aren’t eradicating commercial fishing on these coasts entirely (which may had been their main mission). In cases like this it must come down to one thing; what is more socially responsible? Allowing fishermen to keep their livelihood and support their families OR fully protect the endangered fish of the California coasts? When considering social entrepreneurship, organizations are not sacrificing their missions when working with local businesses. They are enhancing their objectives and widening their efforts. Being socially conscious is about looking at the big picture. Investing in local commerce certainly falls under this category. As in this case most relationships become mutually beneficial and help the greater good.
Local sustainability should be on everyone’s radar screen. Bringing the control back to the people is essential to building a solid and cohesive economy. It can often be more prolific and lucrative as well. In certain circumstances a region may have the necessary resources to function without large corporate assistance and in fact be more efficient. With the example of the forests in the small area of IXTLN de JUREZ, Mexico in the article “Growing a Forest ad Harvesting Jobs” the locals were able to create a successful self-governing body maintaining the lumber trade and protecting the forest in this area of Mexico (Malkin, 2010). More and more communities are beginning to understand the power that their strong communities can hold when in comes to creating and effecting local business.
The positive effects that a local sustaining community can have on its environment are innumerous. It provides work and capital flow into the communities allowing for better quality of life, lower poverty levels, less unemployment and stronger community coercion. Ultimately, what many communities are lacking is the simple education of how they can build a self-sustaining community.
Efforts to increase local business sustainability are most certainly dictated by what presently exists in each given situation, community or local trade. To assist with any programming of this nature it is vital for any intermediary organization to be purely resource based. All must work from the ground up each time in order to build the best relationship and ensure the highest chances of economic prosperity. Each setting will be different so this must be kept in mind.
When dealing with local or rural support efforts the role of a supervisor in this sense is much different than that of a traditional business manager. It is important to observe, understand and relate to the working local economy. In many instances these communities are in rural, international, small communities that have very different languages and customs. Understanding them, their resources and having the ability to think on their local scale will help ensure a managers success.
Ultimately it is vital for the success of global prosperity that communities have control of their own land, income and trade. As the world’s number one profession is still in agriculture, land ownership and support and education are vital to ensure the sustainability and financial growth of rural areas around the globe.
Anderson, L. May, 2004. Does Wal-Mart Destroy Communities?
EGBOK Mission. 2012. http://egbokmission.org/
Intrepid Travel. 2012. www.intrepidtravel.com
Kaufman, L. November, 2011. Partnership Preserves Livelihoods and Fish Stocks.
Malkin, E. November, 2010. Growing a Forest and Harvesting Jobs. The New York