22 February 2017 : A newsletter of the Australian Jesuits

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The power to make a difference


Australians today are living in a world where the choices they make have an enormous power to make a difference in the lives of people in developing countries, former Australian Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot told young business leaders at the Jesuit Social Services Just Leadership Breakfast last week.


Kernot was one of three keynote speakers exploring the topic of social entrepreneurship at the fourth and final breakfast in Melbourne on 8 October.


Speaking to more than 190 people in attendance, Kernot said the only way to get markets to reflect the values that we hold as a society is to become more discerning consumers.


‘We need our markets to value reciprocity and the common good, and they don't do that at the moment. I think we're going to have to work harder to say that we want markets to have a different role in our lives', she said.


For the last five years, Kernot has been program director for the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School at Oxford University, and is now the Director for Teaching and Learning at the Centre for Social Impact in New South Wales.


She said consumer campaigns work, and that is highlighted by the recent decision by Cadbury to source the cocoa beans for their dairy milk chocolate range from fair trade cooperatives, providing an enormous boon for farmers in countries like Ghana. Other initiatives, like www.kiva.org, allow people to directly provide loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries themselves.


‘We are really fortunate. We're living in an age where individuals can bypass the big institutions that we've relied on for all our lives and have a global, systemic impact.'


The Just Leadership Breakfast coincided with the Social Enterprise World Forum, held last week in Melbourne. Guest speakers Andy Kuper, from the UK, and Lillian Masebenza, from South Africa, shared their on-the-ground experiences of launching social enterprise activities that have made a difference to thousands of lives.


The director of the innovative microinsurance firm, LeapFrog UK, Kuper said business and political leaders are beginning to see the benefits of investing in and working with communities in developing markets.


‘They are seeing a lot of innovation come out of serving low income and vulnerable people', he said.


Good leaders, he said, were people who had a vision to see what was possible and who could make the personal connections to see initiatives realised.


‘Seeing where there is an opportunity to make an impact, and trying to think of the systemic solution, the market-based solution, is very powerful', he said.


Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards said the Just Leadership Breakfasts this year had been a great success. Each had engaging speakers, and helped provide impetus to a new generation of socially conscious business leaders.


She thanked the sponsors for the series - NAB, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, BP and the City of Melbourne - and said there were already ideas for building on the series next year.


‘I think everybody being here today is a sign that we have a shared vision', she said.


Click here to listen to excerpts from the three talks. 


Photo gallery:

 Lillian Masebenza shares the story of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Networks, South Africa.


Andy Kuper from LeapFrog UK. 


The talks were followed by reflection and discussion at the tables. 


Photos by Michael McVeigh, Jesuit Communications Australia.



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