Living and Giving

Social Entrepreneurship in Asia Takes Off

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It\’s not just the Joy – it\’s the Jobskills.

I just got off the phone with Andrea Krause, the leader of The Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship (FYSE). It\’s a regional social entrepreneurship organization, one of the first of its kind.  It speaks not only of their desire to do good, but also to develop the young individual\’s skills, potential and even job training and preparedness in Asia.

In the United States, we focus on social entrepreneurship more from a \’passion perspective.\’  We want to follow our dreams, and we want to follow them early.  Our dreams entail making an impact — a big impact — so that we positively affect the world, and, bring increased meaning to our everyday lives.   Following social entrepreneurship in our country definitely conjoins  purpose and passion, which provides a higher level of engagement in our community.  It\’s almost as if we are seeking a deeper connection to giving, to being, to joy.

In Asia, social entrepreneurship is viewed a bit differently. The purpose of FYSE is most certainly to empower, encourage and incite social entrepreneurs to know they can make a difference.  FYSE wants to increase awareness about social entrepreneurship all across the region.

In addition, there is another equally important driver: Simply put, it\’s jobs.

Many of the Asian countries don\’t have enough jobs for younger people.  In the Asia-Pacific area, almost 50% of the younger set age 15-24 are without work.  And this is not a new trend. In 2005, 39.2 million youth were unemployed, a statistically gross figure but 5 years ago.

So FYSE instituted Paragon Fellowships, providing mentoring, workshops, discussions, peer interactions, tools and podcasts to help these aspiring social entrepreneurs jumpstart and maintain their visions. It\’s the hope of taking the leap — being bold without job prospects, and creating your own venture.   Now the caveat is you must have a compelling vision and the true sticktoitiveness to realize it.  Fear of no job prospects does not = social entrepreneurship.

The regional differences are fascinating.  China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have much greater receptivity to social entrepreneurship.  South Korea and Japan are less so. In Japan, the ritual is more that students are scanned by visiting companies their last year of university. If they aren\’t picked up, often the student will stay in school.  Leaving school without a job is a precarious position offering little if no possibility for job prospecting.

Cheers to FYSE for encouraging the innovation, courage, inspiration and tools to foster social entrepreneurship in the region.  May we see social entrepreneurship continue to thrive and grow.