How can eco-social entrepreneurs take their knowledge overseas?

Many of us want to work toward helping global problems like hunger, homelessness, displacement, and lack of infrastructure, but it can be difficult to find a starting point. Which of the many problems do you tackle? What opportunities are there? How can you get others to participate?

Though it can feel at times like there isn’t much you can do, there are in fact many ways to direct your life to make a difference in the lives of others, whether you want to help in the fight for human rights, animal rights, the environment, or all of the above.

Start with social entrepreneurship

Anyone looking to take their career into their own hands can start by becoming an entrepreneur. According to Ohio University, “business owners who aim to stand out in the social entrepreneurial field have to develop novel and effective approaches to addressing broad social issues.” To achieve this, you can center your career path around skills that will allow you to make the difference you want.

You can start by practicing good social entrepreneurship skills, which OU identifies as:

  1. Recognizing social issues
  2. Identifying opportunities
  3. Inspiring participation
  4. Taking action
  5. Speaking publicly
  6. Fighting adversity
  7. Creativity

Diversify your assets

Once you have mastered those skills, you can further develop your novel approaches and attain more knowledge in the specific field you are interested in. If you have a specific region or industry in mind, you can do so by continuing higher education. Getting a masters in international relations can be especially helpful, as it presents the opportunity to incorporate a wide variety of subjects — from politics, to economics, and even sociology— and prepares you to work abroad and with other international corporations.

It’s also never too early to get involved with legislative and grassroots organizations that are more specific to your interests. Volunteering with an organization in the field in which you would like to make a difference can help you get direct experience and help you learn exactly what it takes to meet your goals. This is especially important if you want to work for a specific cause, like the deforestation in Kenya, or climate change as a feminist issue.

Take your venture overseas

After you have the proper skills and assets, you will be ready to focus on working abroad. When you decide where you want to go, you will need to equip yourself with the appropriate knowledge of culture and, if applicable, language. Business and economics vary widely among countries, and what works where you live may not work where you want to go. It’s important not to walk into a country and assume that what you are familiar with is the best knowledge.

One way to avoid this is to work directly with locals when planning your business. This way, you can be sure that your business has the biggest positive impact possible. Another option is to create a business that invests in existing businesses with microloans. NPR recently reported on the idea of microloans helping to lift women out of poverty. Though the report was inconclusive and microloans were found to have harmful effects at times, it did not rule out the possibility of being helpful. Furthermore, there exist some successful examples, such as Kiva, an international nonprofit based in San Francisco that helps families create a better future for themselves through lending.

Whatever your ultimate objective, it’s important to pursue your interests and develop the essential skills that will help you make the world a better place while respecting the existing cultures you aspire to impact. Hope and a vision for change are great places to start but need to be aided by the ability to make the vision a reality. The world is always in desperate need for fierce, feminine leadership, and you can step up and be the change you want to see in the world.