Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Sent You

A statute of St. Clare at the university named after her - 6189 miles from her birthplace in Assisi
David Wolpe, in his book Teaching Your Children About God, tells the following story.  A man stood before God, his heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world, and cried out:  "Dear God, look at all the suffering, anguish and distress in the world.  Why don't you send help!"  God responded, "I did send help.  I sent you."

I thought about this story during my first interview/visit in Silicon Valley.  I met with Dr. James Koch, the William and Jan Terry Professor of Management and Emeritus GSBI Director and Senior Research Fellow at Santa Clara University.  Dr. Koch, or Jim as he insisted I call him, was referred to me as someone who knew some things about something that I am learning more and more about - social entrepreneurship.   Within ten minutes I realized I was in the presence of a calltrepreneur.  Social entrepreneurs are people look at a social problem and use the tools of entrepreneurship, management and organization to do something to bring about change.  They are the people God sent to lead the elimination of the suffering, anguish and distress in the world.

More than ten years ago Jim Koch worked in collaboration with other Silicon Valley and world leaders to create the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) which connects experienced entrepreneurs with fledgling, high-potential social entrepreneurs from around the world.  GSBI is one of the longest running social entrepreneur training and education programs in the country.  In a few weeks the program will celebrate its tenth anniversary with the 20 students from the new class presenting their business plans/models.

The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (which was founded in 1997 and is where the GSBI is based) is to accelerate global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to build the capacity of social enterprises around the world."  The stories Jim shared about the differences the 150 past students have made in the world was inspiring.  I encourage you to check out their website to learn more about the program and the people who are working on and, more importantly, doing something about world poverty, micro finance, water, and human rights.  God has sent some wonderful people indeed!

How "ironic" it is to find a program that is an example of the best intersection between business and religious/social values at a university named after the saint who dedicated her life to renouncing all material goods in service to God.  I'm not sure Clare would understand some of the management techniques or issues that are being explored but I know she would understand the need, the call to make a difference in the world.  

Thank you to Jim Koch and the millions of people that are being served and helped by the work of the people in the GBSI.  Thank you to God for keep sending people to do something about the suffering, anguish and distress in the world.   And thank you, most of all, to you for being one of those people.

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