I remember the 16-year-old me excitedly discovering the world of developmental economics and believing that I had discovered my vocation in life. Social development is still my passion but experience has taught me that improving the alarming levels of inequality and injustice in the world is not as easy as I had at first hoped.
I absolutely loved working for Bridges for Enterprise during my university days. Before starting BfE, I had gone through a long period of being frustrated at being unable to make a difference to people living in poverty. I thought that anything I could manage in my capacity as a student would be unsustainable longer-term. At BfE, I discovered there are ways of empowering people that can create lasting change. Through promoting local community projects that happen at grass-roots level, BfE supports entrepreneurs who can provide employment and resources for decades to come. When talking to our social enterprise founders, I saw the impact that BfE was having on the ground and it was exciting!
Besides supporting social start-ups, BfE also aims to help professionals bridge the corporate-social divide by encouraging them to keep their desire to make a difference in the world alive whilst succeeding in corporate careers. Personal experience has taught me that it isn’t always easy to bridge the gap. Since graduating, moving to London and starting work, I have felt my desire to give my time to helping those less fortunate dwindle at an alarming rate. On weekdays, my time and mental capacity is consumed by work. On weekends, I want to meet friends, relax and enjoy leisure time. These things definitely aren’t wrong but I also know I use my busyness means as an excuse to focus on my own needs while forgetting that there are others who need far more!
Having experienced this tension first hand, and recognising that I am not alone in my experience, my hope is that BfE will be a community that encourages professionals to keep alive their passion for social change. It is precisely because I feel this tension within me that I know I need to continue to give my time and skills to projects that make a difference in the world. Once I were to get out of the habit of giving, it would be easy to let my passion grow cold.
Perhaps this article is a way of making a commitment to myself to keep the fire going. I know that following the weekday-weekend routine is easier. But continuing to balance work with the passion for social development is ultimately much more fulfilling.