Noting that the business community has an important, yet vastly under-appreciated, role to play in promoting peace and prosperity throughout the world, President of the World Trade and Development Group Mr. John Dickson moderated a panel discussion on the topic,“Moral and Innovative Entrepreneurship: Making a Difference.” The forum was held during a four-day 2012 Global Peace Convention, “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Strong Families, Healthy Societies, and a Global Culture of Peace,”in Atlanta, Georgia, sponsored by the Global Peace Foundation.
Mr. Dickson was joined by panelists Mr. James Bailey, National Director of Operation Hope, of Atlanta; Mr. Nelson Pilosof, President of World Trade Center Montevideo and Director of World Trade Center Association Latin America Region, Uruguay; and Mr. Chang Young Yang, Secretary General of the World Federation of Korean Associations of Commerce, Republic of Korea.
Mr. Pilosof opens the discussion by asking, “What is an entrepreneur?” An entrepreneur, he said, is an innovator who feels the inspiration to introduce something that has never been created. “You have a dream in your head and in your heart and you take the challenge to convert the dream into a reality.”
He said an entrepreneur does not have to be a businessman but may be an artist, professor, or artisan. He added that business is the way to bring prosperity to the community, to defeat poverty and to improve material welfare. “But it does not lead us to happiness,” Mr. Pilosof said. “There is an instant in your life when you hear silence but take it as mystery which becomes the source of inspiration. An innovative entrepreneur produces new ideas and new discoveries to cultivate the invisible values of integrity, dignity, confidence, fulfillment and respect.”
“How do you lift people out of poverty? You teach them the power of an idea. You can inspire a whole generation if you inspire ideas.”
Mr. Chang Young Yang suggested that the concept of ‘”profit” be carefully considered. “I hope we, the enterprises, understand ultimate profit as growth of staff, consumers and society as a whole beyond just financial value. What this globalized earth implies is values created by us ‘all together.’ If we can pursue the success of all—for myself, my family, my country, and the world with veracity beyond enterprises, using ‘morals’ as a marketing tool, the ‘profits’ of the enterprise would truly be valuable.”
James Bailey spoke of the virtues and values needed among today’s entrepreneurs, such as dignity, fairness and less greed. “Men and women are no longer following their passion, but are instead following the money,” he said. “How do you lift people out of poverty? You teach them the power of an idea. You can inspire a whole generation if you inspire ideas. If we stifle innovation, if we stop coming up with ideas, all progress comes to an abrupt halt.
“How do we make free enterprise and capitalism work for the poor?” Mr. Bailey asked. “The economically disadvantaged and the poor are the greatest untapped resource. Who better to take the risk than those who have nothing to lose and everything to gain?
“How do we create stakeholders in our community? We teach the public how to be entrepreneurs; we give them the tools and knowledge they need to be successful. We need to spark a new generation of innovators, job creators and create jobs in the community.”
A pre-Convention Global Peace Business Forum, “Peace and Prosperity through Trade and Investment,” highlighted the “peace dividend” of business practices in Kurdistan and growing investment opportunities in Africa. An additional forum, “Commerce and Investment Opportunities and Shared Benefits in Latin America,” was convened on December 1, 2012 during the Global Peace Convention. The Convention concluded on December 2.
Keely Beck is a graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta.