Historically, entrepreneurs have been at the forefront of every societal movement. With the entrepreneur’s inherent elasticity, we bounce back from major and unexpected disruptions in our daily lives, as exemplified by our response to the COVID-19 crisis. While others were fazed and paused, we took the lead, implementing better modes of operation in business to prioritize the needs of the people. In addition, we listen to our communities and respond accordingly to ensure that everyone has what they need to be happy, healthy, and unified. Therefore, while entrepreneurs are spearheading the entrepreneurial revolution, it is not only for us but also for our entire global community.
And yet, in the spirit of leveling the playing field to combat inequity, we must consider the populations who are the most in need of this revolution. Who benefits the most from a more humane world? Marginalized communities. The pandemic has revealed to us that those with the odds of success stacked against them—such as people of color, women, older people, and the youth—need immediate support in a way that we can no longer ignore. The entrepreneurial revolution can rectify these disparities and uplift those in need to shape a more decent, safe, and healthy society.
For instance, as stated in an article by the OECD, young people were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Of all the youth’s recent concerns—including feeling sidelined in the decision-making process surrounding governmental pandemic recovery—their primary worry was the pandemic’s effect on their mental health. According to OECD data (2021), young people across Belgium, France, and the US were 30%–80% more likely to report symptoms of depression or anxiety than adults following the onset of the pandemic.
Additionally, the blow of unemployment dealt with people ages 15–24 was significantly worse than their adult counterparts. In 2021, 13.65% of young people were unemployed compared to 5.66% of adults. This data clarifies the need to elevate young people’s roles in business and entrepreneurship and emphasize their creativity, energy, and innovative ideas for a more sustainable future.
Furthermore, within the group of young people exist sub-groups of even more at-risk individuals, such as women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and people with a disability. For example, another OECD study on individuals in the UK and the US shows that, amidst the COVID-19 crisis, members of the LGBTQ+ community were twice as likely to report increased anxiety and depression than non-LGBTQ+ identifying people. Moreover, those with pre-existing mental and physical disabilities have reported higher levels of psychological distress. Individuals with severe mental health conditions experience a greater risk of hospitalization and mortality from contracting COVID-19 in several OECD countries.
This tells us that we cannot focus on one marginalized group without zooming out and viewing these groups with an intersectional lens. By understanding the need for equity between all populations, we know that we must uplift those in our communities who need extra support to all stand on equal ground.
So, who is the entrepreneurial revolution for? Everyone, of course. But especially the disenfranchised. Our global community is composed of many sects and subsects of people.
The entrepreneurial revolution is a surefire way to address these issues and lead the world into a better future that prioritizes people first.
Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, GWSB, Department of Management