Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

Last week we read an article, titled “Does the Market Work Better Than Government at Transitioning to Sustainability,” in which one author was supposed to argue from the position of the pro-government perspective, and the other author was supposed to argue from position of the pro-market position; however, both of the authors only talked about using government regulation, either by carbon taxation or building codes, to work towards sustainability. I found this truly unfortunate because the most promising solutions I see for a sustainable future are through free-market means, none of which were mentioned. Some solutions that free-marketers would suggest for starters is privatization of resources (to avoid the tragedy of the commons effect) and eliminating regulation so that there’s no barrier to entry for new entrepreneurs creating sustainable products.

I firmly believe than if a solution requires coercion for compliance, then it’s not a very good solution, and we should continue looking. The best solutions are the ones that people enthusiastically adopt, like new innovations that make your life easier and are better for the planet too. Less regulation encourages more entrepreneurship, which is maintained through consumer support. Entrepreneurship that has large consumer approval, like social entrepreneurship ventures mentioned on the Wicked Problems website, will continue to flourish, while endeavors that do not meet the standards consumers hold will fail. One thing the Wicked Problems website talks about is “Designing With,” meaning working with communities to design solutions that work. I cannot think of an easier way to do this than more communities to support the businesses that hold their same values. This cannot happen though as long as the government gives out subsidies to other corporations, allowing them to thrive even despite community support.

One social entrepreneurship company that I have supported is called 31 Bits. It’s an ethical jewelry and homegoods store that employs women in Uganda and helps them gain an education and even start their own businesses. I think companies like this, who work with local communities, help solve wicked problems more than a centralized force working off just models and future projection, without any regard for the community, could. This has not always been my position, but as I began to think about the issues and evaluate solutions, this is the approach I have come to believe will work best. Moving forward, I am continuing to rethink what I have been told to believe, and I am continually testing ideas and positions against one another, as I believe that dialogue and debate over important wicked problems will bring to light the best solutions.

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