According to a study by the World Bank, the growing body of evidence proves the linkages between empowerment and effectiveness of the development on the society and personal grassroots level.
Personal empowerment by its very definition requires increasing our actual influence within our social sphere, whether we do so within our relationships our larger social context, as citizens or as consumers (Guy Winch)
Cattaneo & Chapman define personal empowerment as “…a process in which a person who lacks power sets a personally meaningful goal oriented toward increasing power, takes action toward that goal, and observes and reflects on the impact of this action, drawing on his or her evolving self-efficacy, knowledge, and competence related to the goal.” They proposed a model of personal empowerment that describes an interactive process, which emphasizes the real world actions we take and the impact these actions have on our social relations.
Eradicating poverty is a joint process among people who form a community regardless of their social status. It’s in personal empowerment that poor people can be involved in local cooperative initiatives and inter-community associations. Personal empowerment is essential in helping them improve their knowledge, skills and self-perception. One effective way to personal empowerment is by the utilization of social entrepreneurship. It does not only empower the poor but also gives strength to the economy.
This process of developing self-confidence and autonomy to the poor makes a personal and collective change on them. It gives them new hope and the chance to hold on to their abilities. If only more people would join social entrepreneurship initiatives to empower the poor, eradicating poverty is much easier. We may not notice it but poor people are the gems of society and inspiring them to work for a brighter future is really life changing.
Social entrepreneurship facilitated by Sonas in rural Cambodia is one concrete example of how personal empowerment leads to social and economic empowerment. They are passionately committed in honoring and dignifying women entrepreneurs for the purpose of creating an environment that manifests high potential and sustainability. Through handicrafts, permaculture and well-being projects, they’re able to help the village entrepreneurs start anew and be responsible and empowered individuals.
Empowering people especially women is a big investment in the future. Sharing knowledge with them through trainings and mentorship on micro business stimulates their interest. By providing them seed capital, they can productively establish sustainable small-scale business that can help improve their lives and alleviate poverty. Training them and inspiring them to work for a brighter future contributes to building happier communities. With an empowered life, they are even more motivated to share their learning with others and spread happiness and create a ‘multiplier effect’.
Success stories are not only for people who have high positions in business empires. Social entrepreneurship has already proven this point. Initiating social and economic development is a great leap that encompasses many benefits not just to entrepreneurs but also to the society. It promotes education, poverty reduction, health care, sanitation, and environmental development.
Fostering careers for the poor, especially women, allows them to have personal fulfillment. It’s a big encouragement for them to be their own bosses and believe in their capabilities. The world needs more of this humanitarian movement. It’s never a waste to support them and their passionate endeavors to work and employ their skills. Infinite possibilities for a better future await everyone if there’s unity and cooperation in making social entrepreneurship possible.
Cambodia is a country of thriving people with good hearts and focusing on the empowering side of social business, they’re gradually expanding their reach towards sustainability in villages like Prey Theat. Anyone can put their hands on this fruitful endeavor, especially the young generation can do so much in promoting social progress.
Social entrepreneurship is a positive solution to our worthwhile journey to eradicate poverty. It teaches people to be more productive even in simple ways. Sonas believes that poverty, unemployment, job loss and environmental problems are just small challenges compared to the big opportunities that social business offers.
Want to learn how you can get involved, visit www.sonas.org
Paul Gill, Co-Founder Sonas.org
Cattaneo, L. B. & Chapman, A. R. The Process of Empowerment: A Model for Use in Research and Practice. American Psychologist. (2010) 65, 646-659.
Winch, Guy. The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve your relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem. (2011) Walker & Company; New York.