Purposeful Business? Entrepreneurial intent or more of us as Expedipreneurs?

Expedient

- The quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral.

- Propriety or advisability, action forced by circumstances of need

- Speed, haste or urgency.

Entrepreneur

- A person who sets up a business taking on financial and reputational risks in the hope of returns

- A person with great, innovating, ideas that identifies the need for the creation of a business to fill a gap in the market. Characteristics and traits regularly associated with entrepreneurs are creativity, imagination and a thirst for work

First, the altruisms, the yes, so what? points. Points we will turn to questions and suggestions to prompt more questions.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive socio-economic actions and reactions; increasingly negative in nature as we all start to see tensions mount with some appalling behaviour and selfishness commencing to outweigh selflessness. It is the reactions where we must look again at incentives and motivations of different actors; particularly those with power; economic and political. As the initial shocks are placed into proportion, questions appear whether the wider costs of shutting down vast swathes of economies are fully warranted.

Political point scoring has risen as the original emergency wave receded in Europe.

Asia has the appearance of restrained efficiency delivering effective controls, some challenges to leadership but, in the main, the power-distance relationships of cultures has witnessed remarkable social cohesion.

The Indian subcontinent? Generalisations require to be toned, overall, the use of fear and force has shown the fragility of social order as power through economics and generational social ordering is used and abused.

In Africa, politicking has led the way in several countries with coronavirus another impediment or instigating point to reinforce powers-that-be remaining the powers-that-be.

The Economist — May 16th https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/05/16/why-covid-19-seems-to-spread-more-slowly-in-africa

The manner the virus has hit, is hitting, is becoming more apparent as data is collected and collated. Across Asia, Europe and North America age, sex, factors of morbidity and related living conditions for different cultural and ethnic groupings become apparent. The questions being raised are far wider than originally expected in terms of ‘fighting the coronavirus war’

A major element being found is the vast numbers of people who will be pushed back into extreme poverty over the coming months and years — the African continent and Indian subcontinent will bear the brunt of this reversal. Why?

Actions have been taken in terms of lock downs, social distancing enforced by curfews and the too willing strong arm of the law in several high-profile examples. Of greater concern are the denials of coronavirus and the fabrication of xenophobic stories to cement those in power, in power.

From 1990 through to 2019, the number of people living in extreme poverty, less than $1.90 a day, fell from 2 billion to approximately 630million. This, as the World population continued to rise, reflects the global economy bringing impact to individuals, Asia urbanised and industrialised. We all became increasingly interlinked and added value through new products and new market opportunities. Africa was behind the curve, remains with a different set of considerations regarding the wellbeing of people.

Talk of GDP, gross domestic product, and how this has taken a severe blow due to the World economic slowdown hides the stark situation for the vast majority of people across Africa. The commodity wealth delivering for Angola, Nigeria and South Africa is the fixation of financial markets removed from the realities for most people. The Brookings Institute noted April 11th, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2020/04/11/africa-in-the-news-covid-19-impacts-african-economies-and-daily-lives-clashes-in-the-sahel/ , these three economies, quoted as the largest in Africa, ‘are expected to contract by up to 6.9% due to their reliance on exports of commodities whose prices have declined and other structural issues’. The article does not go on to set out what the ‘other structural issues’ are. Noting the education issues already apparent, youthful populations with attitude and aptitude shortfalls given the question — What next?

Drawing on what has happened in previous downturns, the initial cuts will be the services to the poor. Public education was one of the first victims when government commodity taxation streams were hit. The Brookings Institute, April 29 2020, collated research, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2020/04/29/the-covid-19-cost-of-school-closures/ showing the consequences of missed education far outweighs any costs of coronavirus responses/reactions. However measured, but always returning to the financial cost extolled as a mean measure, the USA example, Brookings brings forward is truly eye opening. Four months loss of education is US$2.7trillion, this 2,700,000,000,000dollars, out of the annual GDP of the USA. This loss is now being materialised as lockdowns continue without entering a meaningful dialogue regarding people centred economic development now and for the next generation. Fit this with climate change imperatives and we have the substance many politicians appear to avoid as they appeal to the here and now popularism of politics rather than the statecraft a few key leaders have exhibited.

With young people, the next generation, let us go into the issues of entrepreneurial endeavour. Much more likely for the vast majority of young people is expedient enterprise to stay alive.

Juxtapose this with the exploitation of natural resources well set out by several scholars investigating ‘The Oil Curse’. The considerations are such, without accountability, oil and other commodity wealth has been used to fuel elitism. Such wealth, the manner economies have developed and are measured, has not created the enabling environments for broad spectrum entrepreneurial endeavour nor addressed the structural problems locking people in into precarious, expedience driven, livelihoods. The education illustrations are repeated in terms of health, basic service provision, enabling infrastructure for poor people to move from expedience to worthwhile endeavour.

Because coronavirus caused some reflection, the problems of structural unemployment have been re-highlighted by several key policy influencers. The World Economic Forum highlighted the concerns in a recent survey, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/recovering-from-covid-19-these-are-the-risks-to-anticipate-now/?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2719847_Agenda_weekly-22May2020&utm_term=&emailType=Newsletter.

Jakkie Cilliers, renowned researcher, founder of the Institute of Security Studies, made the points regarding the demographic dividend for Africa alongside coronavirus considerations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htXEXCuSekM&feature=share . Noting the references to what happened in Asia could happen in Africa, to paraphrase: if, all things being equal, the African dividend will come around 2050. 2050 is half a lifetime away, it is US20,000 of earnings (no allowance for inflation or cost of living adjustments at US$1.90 a day) away for those in extreme poverty. This is an awful long time for Africa to continue to provide migrants finding any means to get to Europe’s promised land. Another war or two in the Middle East will provide further crises for refugees headed to the relative safety of Europe.

Place the US$20,000 against the cost of aid and development delivery, the cost of servicing debt developed without returns for most people, we start to have some points of basic cost benefit. The World Bank estimates the lockdown restrictions and linked economic downfalls will push 49million, 49,000,000 people, into extreme poverty. This is a global figure, rounding the financials, will stick with this list of forty-nine million people (Do we have their names and whereabouts?) to ask:-

Slightly naïvely but a question to spur thought:- why not pay these 49,000,000 people their US$20,000 of perspective absolute poverty earning for the next 30 years now? Now. US$980,000,000? Less than a billion dollars as governments talk about trillions to be invested to protect, rebuild or generally support the present economic activities without looking at how massive shifts are happening economically and socially. Aaah, the cost of administering, delivering. Let us not raise the spectre of accountability given just how we have considerations of absolute poverty and the manner we pay ourselves to discuss this. The other question someone already asked: If they are given this money now, what are people going to do with it? Start a business? Invest it in a fund?

Easy retort is — Why is this question not asked now with all the money poured in to lifting people out of extreme poverty? Plenty of reality questions regarding vocational and employment skills training programmes. Why not let the markets have some more say? Perhaps a further check on how the 1,370,000,000 lifted out of extreme without the marketing of aid and elections for democracy would be enlightening?

Points regarding the GINI coefficient, this BBC piece cuts past the usual suspects — https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-31847943 , are far more pertinent as we reflect on the market and economic forces overwhelming social considerations. Inequity and the growing inequality of opportunity means youngsters entering the labour market are more likely to be viewed as consumers than contributors.

The coronavirus reactions have highlighted young people’s vulnerability to the market forces. Sectors they work in have been hardest hit in terms of shutdowns. Internships and work experience opportunities have been drastically cut. UK firms have cut entry level recruitment by over a fifth according to the Institute of Student Employers. In USA, 22% of employers cancelled internships. One in every five of the youngsters you see standing around is feeling a frustration their career step opportunity has gone (at least for the moment however moment is time-lined with uncertainty being a key word in CEOs vocabulary).

The impact will be far higher in sub-Saharan Africa where formal employment is not as strong as these markets and the demands of youth far, far, greater. Cilliers notes the considerations regarding mobile telephony and how this is changing East Africa. And beyond with some aspects of mobile money developed in East Africa only now starting to gain traction on European markets. Cilliers returns to the need for the creation of formal employment without drawing through how the technology surrounding electronic communication and the tracking this has enabled, if not fostered, is now changing what is formal and informal employment in a platform, gig, zero hours, expediency economic setting.

Expedipreneurship, is the career path for Gen Z, the people entering the labour markets now having been born post the millennium.

Does history repeat itself? A definitive no comes the resounding answer. Yes, we can learn from what has happened and clearly, we have economic cycles. But the knowledge builds and the linear line of human development entails what was is not what will be. Freedland’s Strategy A History, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17847473-strategy, reinforces the cumulative nature of knowledge; even when there are those who chose to forget or ignore.

What is going to happen? Given the continued development of technology, no star gazing, solid engineering and fantastic minds continue to see developments disrupting what there is. This immediately reinforces Ralph Stacey’s points regarding the certainty of uncertainty when looking into the future. In the minds of young entrepreneurs and majority expedipreneurs, the agreement is low as to how any future will look in terms of organised, supportive ways to develop their career opportunities. For some with capital, agreement is high, the model simple — buy politics, pay off waverers and crush dissent physically and mentally.

Ralph Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Matrix

The nature of economies and how we assess economies will need to develop. Accountability of government has been severely tested in 2020, do not need perfect sight to see how the situations have been manipulated (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2020/may/25/dominic-cummings-says-he-drove-to-barnard-castle-to-test-his-eyesight-video ). Yes, there have been moves for forms of payments to offset the loss of income for some; but far from all, people. Power has been exercised and regularly elites have made soothing social moves with palliative technocrats acknowledging the need to be seen to be doing something.

Whatever happens, consumption is not being paid for by production and those without skills, living precariously day-to-day — expedipreneurs, are the ones to have been left aside. Those with control of platforms have been able to reinforce their grasp of supply and value chains further consolidating the (economic) power they possess fitting back to Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Matrix.

This occurrence is apparent at virtually all economic levels — Until one arrives in a community where the capability to build on social relations; avoid the need to indulge in the seemingly incessant need to communicate via internet-based devices. Here, we are in the realm of expedience, expedient-preneurs, expedipreneurs, dominate. People reliant on their skills and a work ethic of the highest order. But, Stacey’s provisos ring loud, there are vast numbers of people, individuals, with low predictability in their income streams and lives. There may be agreement of the issues and problems, but this agreement does not reach to how to address the issues of decent work across much of the world at a scale to change the precariousness of livelihoods across the entire planet. Coronavirus, the reactions to the virus, have highlighted how vast numbers of people do not have robust enough livelihoods to support their lives for more than a few days. 49million people in extreme poverty, now start adding all the other souls struggling to have a relatively decent standard of living. We start to see and hear the underlying points as to why people sense they have justified grievances even before we add in appallingly heavy handed responses to incidents around the globe.

What is becoming apparent are the further, social, pressures now emergent with expedipreneurship as the main way forward. The considerations of lifting people from extreme poverty through entrepreneurial endeavour is excellent. The questions are, as the coronavirus reactions have shown, regarding the nature of the markets we function in.

Are we supporting people to add value to their lives through becoming an integral part of an economic, value addition, process?

Returning to the definitions in the introduction:

Are we taking part in the creation of a businesses to fill a gap in the market or even the creation of new markets?

Or are we being expediently practical in the here and now?

Possibly being improper or immoral given the manner social pressures are not being dealt with structurally and in a realistic framework?

Are we working on the structures and systems allowing development of markets serving people as producers and not simply consumers?

The changing of (present) markets from capital investment and returns to the few, to people investment, social returns with purposeful enterprise driven by social meaning?

As you answer these questions, please engage and offer your knowledge, expertise and experiences, it is ripe to finish on two quotes:-

Orwell — ‘The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better’.

Someone current — ‘I am seeing, hearing and feeling how so many of us are struggling with, and inside, ourselves. Some people are very, very, busy and will reappear into the bright new post Covid-19 world. Politicians, may, or may not, have offered positive leadership lessons. Some occupying positions of power have taken greater control and, usurping the checks and balances of law and accountability, treated us as little more than statistics to boast or deny culpability as Covid-19 raged.’

‘There will be those who sail along, returning to their facades of making a difference. Others will realise what was, is not what will be. Different elements are important: pieces they thought important, now inconsequential. What was urgent is no longer even appearing on the To Do list. What is important, changing quite dramatically with personal and professional reflection.’

Time in Fragile States: countries & inside my own head— exploring one’s self and community at the edges of reason opens possibilities in mind, body & spirit