The relevance and impact of social enterprise can transcend many industries, cultures and countries in creating social change. A recent opinion piece by George R. Roberts, co-founder of the esteemed private-equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), in the Wall Street Journal has discussed “The Social-Enterprise Approach to Job Creation.”
Through the help of a social venture known as the Community Housing Partnership in San Francisco, a former drifter and drug addict was able to get off drugs, find permanent employment and essentially turn his life around. The article goes on to discuss how “social enterprise partnerships between the public and private sectors are providing millions of Americans—young and old—a second chance.”
When explaining “Social-enterprise employees earn wages and pay taxes, reducing their recidivism rates and dependence on government assistance. They also receive crucial on-the-job training, job-readiness skills, literacy instruction and, if necessary, the counseling and mental-health services they need to move into the mainstream workforce.”
This sounds an awful lot like the work we do with artisans. As we work with artisans in countries such as India and Cambodia, we work with them to ensure they earn fair wages, receive crucial training, have the necessary skills and instruction to create market-ready designs, and receive all sorts of other support to develop their personal lives and their communities.
While the article states that the motivation behind the support is to keep people in school, out of prison and off government assistant, it also touches on a deeper factor: hope. By providing individuals with jobs, we are providing them with hope. Similarly, by supporting artisans in some of the most impoverished parts of the world to improve their lives and their communities through sustainable employment, we are providing them with hope. The hope that their lives could be better through their own hard work.
As the article says: “And if you don’t have hope, what do you really have?”