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A Struggle for Rights: Leymah Gbowee as a social entrepreneur

Summary

Social enterprise is a growing concept which has promoted equal distribution of resources and serves to meet the needs of the community. Opportunities are realized in challenging situation which turn around events like war to economic development projects. Leymah Gbowee is a social entrepreneur who changed the situation in Liberia to an opportunity to achieve peace in the country. She has promoted women leadership in Liberia and the whole of Africa. The project was not motivated by economic gains but the desire to improve women’s quality of life. She continues to serve and promote women in Africa and desires to see women take up leadership roles and promote equity. She is an ideal candidate for a funding project in which she can foresee the African women become educated. Illiteracy is common in Africa and since she is one of them, she is better placed to present the needs of African women. Such a project is like a continuation of the initial project. Women will become economically empowered and develop a sense of responsibility towards their nations.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Introduction
Entrepreneurship is defined as the power to introduce and build a concept to create something from nothing. It is the ability to sense an opportunity where other people find chaos, confusion and dispute (Mohanty, 2005 P.1). Social entrepreneurship is a very valuable aspect that brings about self help in which people work together for a mutual benefit. It instills a sense of responsibility and democracy, equality and togetherness. It is a form of entrepreneurship that focusses more on the societal well being than economic gain. The concepts introduced in social enterprise can be re invented to come up with projects that benefit the community. Social enterprise focusses on the well being of the community (Nicholls, 2011 P. 121). This article discusses the value brought by Leymah Gbowee to the society as a social entrepreneur. It will further recommend the need to offer financial support to Leymah Gbowee’s in developing the society.
Literature Review
Leymah Gbowee is an example of a social entrepreneur who saw the war calamity in Liberia as an opportunity to create peace. She decided to act after listening to women’s ordeals about abuse, humiliation and even rape, while working as a trauma counselor She organized a group of women to pray for peace and later went ahead to invite Muslim women too. This progressed to become a protest in which this group advocated for peace. Some of the factors that encouraged Gbowee to venture into the forums to fight for peace were triggered by the social injustices that used to happen. The problems were as a result of social inequality, unleveled distribution of resources and people exploiting one another. For instance the desire for the indigenous to reclaim what was originally theirs. Together as a group these women protested until an agreement was reached to end a fourteen year period of violence and war (Nyamidie, 2010, para 1-3).
The war calamity that broke up in Liberians instilled fear among the Liberians, but for Gbowee she saw an opportunity to fight for peace. During the war, women were humiliated and treated unfairly. There was an equal distribution of wealth and this situation prompted Gbowee to unite women and act. Through the peace campaign forums, women had an opportunity to voice their concern while representing the rest of the community (Gbowee & Mithers, 2011 P. 29). This creates value in their lives because they stopped living in fear and terror. Not only were they liberated from war, but the whole country experienced peace. Social enterprise focusses on ensuring that there is equality in business by ensuring that the products introduced in the market benefit every one. This is the case for Gbowee who ensured that the peace forums held were meant to put inequality to an end (Gunn, 2010 P.13). Despite the service that she gave to the country she is still serving the nation. She has expanded her service to the African continent where she is serving as the director for Women Peace and security Network-Africa. This post gives her an opportunity to encourage women to serve their nations by going for leadership positions. She is also promoting peace in Africa by leading the women to serve as peaceful leaders (Nyamindie para. 4).
Social enterprise produces a sense of responsibility and democracy among business people. This is an aspect that gives people the power to change their situation from despair into success. Gbowee saw Liberians suffer in the hands of Charles Taylor’s government and took responsibility to begin the peace restoration process. She led the women to network through very communication opportunity including word of mouth until they finally negotiated for a peace agreement. Through this internal conversion the women group achieved a social change in the African and Liberian history. They managed to use their political power to elect a female president in Africa. This is innovation that was like a crazy dream come true, they brought change in leadership to include women as well (Gunn, 2010, P. 25).
Gbowee’s entrepreneurship also included progressing work practices in which the network for peace building sought to involve women in its activities. She led this group into learning about conflict resolution and also instilled them a sense of responsibility in addressing the peace issue that had been brought forth (Gbowee & Mithers, 2011 P. 238). This resulted in a different culture in which women can also serve as representatives in addressing national issues. This is a form of social capital in which women were networked and worked collectively to initiate peace in Liberia. Through this unity they obtained jobs, achieved peace and more over, they saw the country get out of poverty to achieve sustainable economic development. This group of women represented the social capital the Gbowee identified as a tool to acquire peace (Nicholls, 2011p. 122-124).
Equity promotion is a value obtained from social enterprise in which members achieve a positive impact through a social mission that is not influenced by profit maximization. For instance, Gbowee united women with one goal of promoting peace and end the humiliation that they experienced during the war. The ultimate goal for this women network was to represent the rest of the community in negotiating for peace. It was a positive force which provided an innovation of meeting the need for peace.  Through this the women achieved the peace goal and also gained economic and political power whereby they got employment and power to elect leaders. The main objective translates into economic gain which was not initially planned for (Short & Moss, 2009 p. 162).
Social entrepreneurship is driven by the need to benefit the community as in the case of Gbowee. She was driven by the desire to see women experience peace when she was working as a counselor. The women were raped and abused by soldiers and suffered a lot especially because they were illiterate. The project which was meant to end oppression eventually saw the country stop war and experience peace. The issue of re invention has grown up and today social entrepreneurs can use a former concept to solve issues that affect the community. For example, Gbowee’s project that mobilized women to go for leadership positions can be re invented to introduce literacy among African women (Weerawardena & Mort, 2006 p. 21).
Methodology
This study is based on secondary data obtained from records and other data. The information obtained was analyzed qualitatively to establish whether Gbowee is a good candidate for a social entrepreneurship project funding.
Findings
Gbowee is a social entrepreneur who can work with the women to move them from illiteracy to educated professional women. The project that saw the country end war and experience peace was not meant for an economic gain. She was motivated by the desire to end oppression and promote equity as well as equal distribution of wealth. She witnessed all the injustice and oppression that happened during the war and also the effects of this war to date. The experience she has working with women as well as the peace project makes her a perfect candidate. A project can be introduced in which she can manage and promote education among the Liberian women and the nation as a whole.
Conclusion
Social enterprise not only adds value to the entrepreneur but also to the society as well. It brings about self help and gives the society an opportunity to convert calamities into solutions. Gbowee united women with a goal to achieve peace which later resulted to a change in leadership. It is a way of establishing progressive activities which add value to the society’s quality of life. Profit making is not the major reason for this form of entrepreneurship, although the end results exhibit a lot of economic gains. It promotes equal distribution of wealth and a sense of responsibility whereby the communities can come together for a positive change.
Recommendations

It is appropriate to support Gbowee financially because from her previous works, it is evident that she can bring change and innovation. At the moment she has a goal to see every Liberian woman educated and given the key to financial independence. This is a social enterprise in which the main goal is to provide education to women and this will consequently expose them to economic opportunities.
As she stated, it is very hard for a foreigner to understand and meet the needs of a local community. For instance the UN has done a great deal of work in ensuring that Liberians progress to lead decent lifestyles. However, Gbowee is in a better position to address women since the reality is: The soldiers who humiliated them are still part of their community.
Giving Gbowee the opportunity to work with her community to promote women education is like a continuation of the first project she achieved. It will serve to complete the task of ensuring that her support reaches the entire community. Given that initially she worked with the ones that she could network with, now she will get a chance to involve all of them. This promotes equity.

 

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