About 15 years ago I found a book in my fathers huge library. It was called “Voluntary Action” by a man called Beveridge and was published way back in 1948. He launched a visionary mission that changed the world because he saw voluntary action as “private enterprise, not in business, but in the service of mankind, not for gain but under the driving power of social conscience”
Three aspects of this struck me then and drove me to work for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on a full basis: Social power: the ability to change things in ways small and large which NGOs embody. Social conscience: the sense of responsibility for right and wrong in our society. Social Entrepreneurship: the establishment of business principles in civil society organizations but not for-personal gain.
The difference today compared to 1948 is that heroic leaders of NGOs no longer seem to be swimming against the tide of history as Beveridge saw it. The ‘driving power of social conscience’ is once again I think at the heart of our society. And what is termed as social entrepreneurship is the engine of this social conscience ensuring that we are not only dealing in words but also action in a sustainable and long term manner.
The award that Nature Seychelles has recently won embodies the spirit of social entrepreneurship – not for personal profit but for the direct benefit of the society. Nature Seychelles has been recognized as the organization with the most entrepreneurial approach to education in Seychelles in 2011 winning the country award for the Educating Africa Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education for 2011.
Over 350 entries from all over Africa were received by the organizers, Educating Africa and Teach a Man to Fish. This unique competition identifies and celebrates the achievements of social entrepreneurs who understand the role education can play within their communities. Nature Seychelles was invited to enter its Green Health Programme, which teaches people to connect with nature through wellness and healthy lifestyles in natural surroundings. The same programme won the International Innovation Prize from the World Leisure Organization not too long ago.
I believe that the best way to promote protection of the environment is to get people to value nature. I have been involved in implementing environmental programs that provide values of one kind or another to various groups over the years. Recently we have focused on linking nature to people’s physical and mental well being. Once again we have won an international award for these efforts.
This post first appeared in the author’s column in The People