They are often neglected; the big banks call them “unbankable” while society calls them “poor people” because they do not have enough material resources and income to take care of their basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education, health and others. As a result, they turn to beg, depend on friends, family members, informal financial institutions and nongovernmental organizations for their capital and well being. Most of the poor people you see today were born poor; some became poor because of the actions of others while others are poor because of their own mistakes. Whatever the situation is, I am for the school of thought that poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.
What really is poverty and how does it make poor people the world’s greatest entrepreneurs? Poverty is a state in which someone does not have enough material resources and income to take care of his or her basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education, health while an entrepreneur is someone who creates a new business, bears most of the risk and enjoys maximum rewards. The process of discovering and creating a new business is called entrepreneurship. Most poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs because they are curious, adaptable, decisive, team builders, tolerant to risk, comfortable with failure, persistent, innovative and they have a long term focused mindset of “someday eh go better” as they commonly say in pidgin English.
Poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs because every day they must innovate to survive. Innovation is the backbone of entrepreneurship. This is true because some of the most successful businesses that we have today took existing products or services and drastically improved on them to meet the challenging needs of the market. In the streets of Bamenda, for example, you will constantly see innovation in many of the poor hawkers. They know exactly the different products to sell in different sessions. They sell sweet yam when it is time for sweet yam and potatoes when it is time for potatoes.
Most poor people are eager to find new ways to survive. They constantly seek new opportunities rather than settling for one. They always do other businesses to complement their main business. They turn to ask very challenging questions and explore different avenues on a daily basis so as to raise income, grow their businesses and take care of their families which make them the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is an interactive process and new opportunities and challenges present themselves at every turn. It’s virtually unworkable to be the same for every scenario. Entrepreneurs need to appraise situations and come up with new solutions so that their businesses can keep moving forward when unforeseen changes happen. Adaptability is a common characteristic of poor people and most of them make proper use of the opportunities presented to them and equally take enough risks so as not to be destitute when unexpected things happen.
Being persistent with a long term focused mindset is a very important characteristic of entrepreneurs. Many hypotheses turn out to be wrong and some ventures fail altogether. It is estimated that nearly 75% of new startups fail but successful entrepreneurs are always willing to learn from mistakes, continue to ask questions, and persist until they reach their goal. This is a very common characteristic of poor people. They are very persistent and hard working. They keep utilizing a good number of opportunities with the belief that things will get better some day.
Therefore, there is no doubt that poor people are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. All they need is an enabling environment with a microcredit system that is carefully designed to meet their needs in a flexible, convenient and affordable manner.