Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's a BOPreneur, 2.0?

As my bleeps know, BOP stands for Base of Pyramid. But maybe today, inauguration day, it should stand for Barrack Obama's Promotion of entrepreneurship. Some excerpts from his speech today (emphasis added):

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

If our new administration can understand the power of the combination of these themes- the duty not just to help others, but to help others help themselves; of serving others with "tolerance and curiosity" and of emphasizing "the doers, the makers of things"- then they too will become BOPreneurs!

So, just for today, BOPreneur will be redefined in honor of our new president. And I hope that he will, in turn, redefine our nation's concepts of service and approach to international development. His advice to put "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas" is applicable to our international policy, as well as our domestic politics.

Good luck, Mr. President.

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