Being a social entrepreneur is tough work. Money hard to come by. Most before you have failed. Even your own family doubts your mental health.
The bracing happy talk at social investment conferences and cheerleading predictions about social investment capital poised to flood into the developing world begs for a reality check. Meet Liberia-born Chid Liberty, Founder & Chief Executive of Liberty & Justice.
Liberty & Justice is Africa’s first Fair Trade Certified apparel company. Built on a shoe-string budget since its founding in 2009, Liberty & Justice is starting to attract both notice and investment capital.
For the iOnPoverty cameras, he described the raw truth about impact investing. “People are very attracted to social entrepreneurship right now. They spend a lot of money flying to conferences all over the world to talk about how great an idea social entrepreneurship is, but, when it comes to check writing time, they start coming up with reasons not to write the check.”
“At some point, if we want to create something [good] in places like Africa, Asia, India, we need to take some very serious risks,” he soberly adds.
To start his social enterprise, Chid tossed a solid Silicon Valley career with a great salary, a nice car, a comfortable place to live in swanky Sausalito, California and a seemingly endless capacity for late night drinking with his buddies. He talks about those days as essentially fooling himself about his happiness, but even then sensing the “seeds of misery.”
Click here to watch and listen to Chid describe his life.
Clear as the brightest African diamond, Chid’s life is the living embodiment of a new kind of Return on Investment (ROI). Not financial ROI, not even social Return on Investment (SROI), but PROI = personal ROI.
Today, Chid advises “know thyself” — the indispensable missing skill for new social entrepreneurs. If you know yourself, you can “really understand people” – both the impoverished client and, of equal importance, the potential impact investor.
In poignant homage to his mother, “When I really think about why I could bet my money and my career on Liberian women, it’s because of my mom. If the goal is to work on economic justice so kids can go to school or get healthcare, if I bet on their moms, we win.”
Chid’s life certainly honors his mother. She must be so proud of him.
Who inflames your courage to be who you are?