So here I am again, back in Berlin. The time in South Africa went by way too fast and I’ve realised that 2,5 weeks was just not enough. Not enough for what I’ve planned to do. Not enough to find out what role I could play to support the social entrepreneurship movement there. Not enough to come up with a concrete plan for my future. Such things need time.
Nonetheless, I’ve met with about ten people from the social entrepreneurship scene, including supporters, enablers and (aspiring) social entrepreneurs in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll write about these encounters and tell you a bit more about their work in South Africa.
Most of the meetings took place informally in a café or bar in Observatory, Cape Town. Looking back, “Obz” was an ideal place to stay for me. You have everything you need just around the corner. The tiny shops, cafés and bars give it a cozy and safe atmosphere. Surprising, there was an abundance of WiFi options in Obz; making work from almost every place possible.
Not to forget, you simply get a stunning view to the Table Mountain in Obz. For the more city lovers, it’s also close to town (i.e. Long Street) if you don’t shy away to use a mini-bus taxi (R6 during the day). I’ll certainly consider staying in Obz again, yet I’ll reconsider the whole backpacker, dorm room accommodation option. At some point you just prefer some more privacy and quietness…
Freelancer – freedom or bad choice?
And now? Even though I just paid €490 for a return ticket to South Africa, I faced the challenge of making a living as a freelancer upon arrival back in Berlin. I also got more and more annoyed of the type of jobs I primarily did: promotion, hostess and service. I could feel an increasingly level of frustration and dissatisfaction because I wasn’t moving anywhere.
What I’ve realised: If you take the time to focus on what you are passionate about and what you want to do in the future, you most likely don’t have the money to pay your bills. But if you have a job and the money, you won’t necessarily have time to focus on other things. And finding a meaningful job to combine both isn’t easy either.
And I suppose that’s not just me. I suppose many aspiring social entrepreneurs face this challenge. So I’m wondering, how can we avoid this situation? Perhaps by giving young people the opportunity to learn more about (social) entrepreneurship early on? Or incorporating social entrepreneurial projects in schools and universities? So that students gain practical experience, test ideas and learn more about the things they are passionate (or not passionate) about?
I’ve quit my job around a year ago to do something that matters, to do work that is more meaningful than simply selling products that nobody really needs. To either find a job, or create a job, that is not exclusively about profit and sales.
To stay motivated and positive, I keep telling myself:
- Just keep going and never forget why you started.
- Things could be better, but also so much worse.
- It’s in the small steps that make big things happen.
- Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.
So when looking back again, it’s exactly a year ago when I started this blog. And I have to say I still enjoy running it. I enjoy doing research, conducting interviews, writing articles, and sharing outcomes on this platform. In some way and despite financial insecurity and constant workload, I’ve gained some freedom back.
So what’s coming next?
Thanks to the new design, which is now mobile responsive and allows ads, plugins and widgets, I hope the blog will reach a wider audience and thus can have some real impact. This means for the next year, I aim to work more closely with others to create and share more valuable and insightful content. And in addition to that, I’ll update the directory more regularly with social enterprises and supporting organisations over time.
Apart from that, I’m organising a cause month on the topic “Innovative Education” with MakeSense Berlin, where we aim to support and highlight existing initiatives and social entrepreneurs in the educational field, but also help those who want to create/start their own initiatives. We do that by organsing or hosting different activities in November 2015 here in Berlin. Personally, I’m in particular interested in Social Entrepreneurship Education, which means I’m wondering things like:
- What tools and support is needed to enable more people to become social entrepreneurs?
- Can and should we perhaps bring the subjects “social innovation” and “social entrepreneurship” (more) into the classrooms and universities?
- What successful initiatives are out there teaching about social entrepreneurship?
- And how can we help students and graduates interested in starting their own (social) businesses?
So if you’re interested to collaborate in some way, wherever you are based, please feel free to get in contact form with me.