Peace and security is an essential factor of human life and has a positive impact on the society since it affects all aspects of economic and social development in the society and the country at large. All societies, communities, groups, and nations need peace to exist and develop. No individual, groups, or communities can develop or grow economically and socially without peaceful coexistence with each other. Peace, Dr. Stephen Ior-Amo Dugguh says, is often violated due to conflicts, violent extremism, terrorism, and insecurity arising from youth unemployment, poverty, gender imbalance, economic and political exclusion, faith-based intolerance, low level of education, ethnicity, corruption, inadequate room for creativity and innovation among others (Dugguh, 2016). These vices have brought negative consequences on socio-economic development in many communities of the state and the country at large.
The periodicals, newspapers, and the media reports that some regions of India, particularly the North-East has been a hotbed for insurgency and communal conflict, which has a record of devastating consequences like physical and psychological violence, destruction of infrastructure, fragmented civil society, poorly functioning government and complex coordination challenges between communities and region, state and center.
Peace is an essential prerequisite because, without peace, it will not be possible to achieve the level of cooperation, trust, community cohesion, and inclusiveness necessary to solve our challenges and empower our communities, institutions, and organizations.
In the report of the Secretary-General, United Nations, ‘Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace’ of 72nd General Assembly session, described sustaining peace as a necessary effort not only once conflict breaks out but also long beforehand, through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes. Therefore, it is a growing awareness both at the national and global levels that innovative peacebuilding initiatives are a welcome strategy in a context like ours where the possibilities for conflict and tension between communities are barred by very delicate walls and which would offer an important option for rehabilitation, integration, sustainable development and recovery both economic and social.
The ecosystem created in the process of the initiative would prevent the outbreak of violent conflict, incubate proactive individuals and groups and gradually develop a peaceful society. Therefore, to establish lasting and objective peace and sustainable development requires marshaling more activities that cut across many domains. Social entrepreneurship development is one of such rapid emerging domains where youth unemployment, dependency syndrome, corruption, economic inequality, and poverty has already taken a centre stage. The social entrepreneurial approach, peace being its dividend, is as one of the alternatives to conflict, violence, economic inequality, insecurity etc. Moreover, social entrepreneurs believe that entrepreneurship is a vital component in any renewal effort.
The following two examples of social entrepreneurship proves that even in areas where conflict, tensions, war renders the social fabric, there is a fertile ground for social entrepreneurship:
KIVA is a non-profit public benefit corporation registered in the State of California, USA. It is a global, internet-based micro-loan process that enables person-to-person connections between the lender and borrower through the brokerage of Kiva and host-country partners. KIVA’s goal is to find and then support would –be local business entrepreneurs who then can be catalysts for renewal and reconstruction in areas devastated by disasters and conflict. It was initiated by Mathew Flannery and Jessica Jackley out of their professional interests, experiences, and expertise in Africa. They observed that a number of enterprising individuals in Africa, who had creative ideas on how to expand or start new businesses lacked the needed capital. It has 3.5m borrowers (83% Female and 17% Male) in more than 80 countries and is associated with about 1.9M lenders. KIVA has given impetus to business entrepreneurship in war-torn areas. (to learn more: www.kiva.org)
Peace Basket, a cooperative, established in July 1997, located in Buhimba cell of Rutasira sector, Huye District in the southern province of Rwanda, after the state-driven genocide of 1994. The president of Peace Basket was a widow of Tutsi kinship; she was 64 then, known as ‘mother’ among locals, who lost her husband during the genocide. The vice president, a 46- year-old (then) was from Hutu kinship. It was established as a means of income generation for villagers living in conditions of extreme poverty and to alleviate one’s loneliness. It was established in a time when inter-groups (Hutu, Tutsi) throughout Rwanda had fear, anger, suspicion, and hatred, none could talk to each other, or come near the other; and when contact was unavoidable, communication was scornful or insulting. The Peace Basket started weaving basket which is an old tradition that has lasted for centuries in Rwanda. The skills of weaving had been passed on from one generation to the next. The weaved baskets are put to many types of usage in Rwanda Society. The weaving of basket was therefore a link to their ancestral traditions, which is common for all cooperative members of Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu kindship. Thus, the activity of weaving baskets was a means of bonding on the grounds of their shared history. It provided a meeting place with the common interests of generating income to provide for their basic needs and brought the people together.
Social entrepreneurship could be a catalytic innovation and create scalable, sustainable systems-changing solutions; approach to peacebuilding. Social entrepreneurs and peace, these two things are more closely related than we think. Social entrepreneurs are motivated to improve society in areas of education, health, livelihood, agriculture, environment, etc. They are described as change agents of the new era. The social entrepreneurial approach is widely acknowledged as a means of solving social, economic, and political problems in a fundamentally new ways or innovative methods and adopting participative structures and democratic processes to bring about system-changing solutions. Thus, social entrepreneurship aims to achieve ‘change’ i.e. to help solve pertinent social, economic, environmental problems non-violently in the society.
Therefore, social entrepreneurship, as a strategic approach, is not only important to the development and progress of the most marginalized, rural communities, but also are essential to sustainable societal progress and community cohesion of the affluent, the rural and urban communities, and communities in conflict. It is a potential source of creativity, change, and transformation in peace operations.
Social entrepreneurship, as Prof. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Awardee 2006) puts it very succinctly, brings out the power of yearning in people to do something about problems that are not currently being addressed with the efficiency and urgency they deserve. It is an innovative initiative to help people and society. The people are poor because they are living in constrained environments, not because they lack the competence to improve their lives. He created economic and social development from below i.e. the strategy of micro-credit, the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs, otherwise too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.
Thus, a peace dividend can be sparked by social entrepreneurship, by reigning in innovation, offering solutions to problems in the society, or mitigating potential harm, inequalities, and socio-economic disparities. in the community. Social entrepreneurship can catalyze progress towards the twin goals of prosperity and peace, besides being critical facto to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Number 8 of UNDP on decent work and economic growth.