Academic discourse on the concepts of “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” prevailed as we entered the domain of our minor, engaging many students, particularly when established entrepreneurs entered the discussion. The spotlight quickly shifted to us, though, the students, as individual agents of innovation. We eagerly began to dissect the process. It all begins with a problem. Identify the problem of interest, then come up with a solution and test it. Test it until it either fails or becomes a success.
We select “Youth Unemployment” as our challenge. We focus on school drop-outs. The idea is to create a space where any unemployed youth is welcome to share his/her ideas with others, regardless of educational background, in order to find and experience fulfilling involvement through projects the youth organize on their own. We write down a business plan and start our search for a location and possible stakeholders. Suddenly, the 5 months fly by and we fail to achieve our objective. Our project did not reach the goal we had targeted. So did we fail? Certainly not.
The valuable lessons learned at “Entrepreneurship for Society” have lead to many new paths in my life. No longer passively waiting, but pro-actively engaging with what I believe and seeing where it leads is my new mantra. Challenges, however, remain. Where do we draw the line between our dreams and realistic goals? Based on my experience at Entrepreneurship for Society, you don’t. At least not in the beginning. Focus too much on the realistic goal and you lose your passion. Focus too much on your dream and you lose control. The most intriguing aspect to me was, and still is, how do we know where our limits are if they’ve never been tested? As Professor Katzy said in his initial lecture: “While Innovation may cause destruction, its purpose is the new, the progress, the future and to get there, you must take risks.”