Effective ways to promote social innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa

Up to recently it was believed that those people with high IQ were always successful. This in many occasions sent a cold shiver into the spine of those who thought they had low IQ. Travis Bradberry coauthor Emotional intelligence 2.0 and president at TalentSmart has dispelled this fear. In his article published in the Forbes magazine on February 2015 he states “people with average IQ outperform those with the highest IQs” .A thorough research was then done to find what the causes of the discrepancies were. Finally the research discovers that there is Emotional Intelligence (EI). it was realized that emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets the star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Then a question we need to ask ourselves- social entrepreneurs in Africa- what is this emotional intelligence and where can we find it. While trying to find the definition I came across the definition by the Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman he says EI is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Travis in his article (how to know if you are emotionally intelligent) Identifies severally hallmarks that will enable you to know you position in terms of EI.

However my aim is not to define Emotional Intelligence again but find ways how this can be an effective way to promote social innovation in Africa. Before I delve into this I will first appreciate the effort put by the European Union in pushing the concept of social innovation through various initiatives including Beaural of European Union Policy Advisory (BEPA). They have expanded the scope of thinking for social entrepreneurs in Africa and other parts of the world.
Just to mention their definition of social innovation calls for a different way of thinking not like in the industrial type of society but one of knowledge and service society. Knowledge that we are in a different kind of society – Knowledge and Service society- is key for us to find the answers to our question effective ways of advancing social innovation.

The best and effective way to advance social innovation is by building EI of individuals. And this will be done starting from schools. Those who have realized the importance of EI skills are making every effort to teach it to their students. In the article-Rethinking How Student Succeed written by Lija farnham et al published in Stanford Social Innovation Review on February 17TH 2015 emphasizes the introduction of Social Emotional Learning as one way to develop a student EI. I also believe that if we are expecting a different result for our problems in Africa then we need to start re-educating ourselves to develop EI skills. We need to consider the place of our education system that never gives anything than skeletons that will not sustain the current economy. To echo what Albert Einstein said – you cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that formed it. We need develop our capacity for us to handle problems of the 21st century.

An example of a revolutionized education system is Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed with MITx and delivered through edX.org. What amazed me when I read about the system is the way they do their learning. They have adopted a model where they are moving their learning from the classroom (or computer) to the street. They say -Creativity, entrepreneurship, and transformational leadership cannot be learned while sitting in front of a computer or in an old-fashioned classroom. These deeper capacities can only be built and cultivated by engaging with the real world in profoundly different ways. to this point I pose and ask myself to what extent is our education system encouraging development of EI skills. I find no answer and I promise myself to search for that it.

For us to be at the experience social innovation in Africa I take the five factors discovered by Collaborative for Academic Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) as some of the effective way we can develop for us to ensure we take full advantage of this new phenomenon. Let us take our time to learn them and then teach them. They include the following:

1) Self-awareness – the ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behaviors
2) Self- management – the ability to regulate ones emotions and behaviors effectively in different situations
3) Social awareness-the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures
4) Relationship skills –the ability to establish and maintain health and rewarding relationship with diverse individuals’ and groups
5) Responsible decision making – the ability to make decision based on consideration of ethical standards safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions and the well-being of self and that of others.

In the knowledge and service economy where prospects of social innovation and social entrepreneurship are very high the above skills are some of the essentials that will help us to survive and even develop Africa to a better continent free of ignorance poverty and diseases. Without developing these we will have difficulties.

Let us continue this conversation.

References

Challenge social innovation (2012)
Otto Scharmer’s article in the world post, U.Lab: Seven Principles for Revolutionizing Higher Ed Posted: 02/17/2015 10:12 am EST
How to know if you’re emotionally intelligent by Travis Bradberry posted on Forbes on February 9th 2015
Rethinking How Students Succeed;By Lija Farnham, Gihani Fernando, Mike Perigo, & Colleen Brosman, with Paul Tough Feb. 17, 2015

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