Revolutionary empowerment Monash Conference Paper


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Revolutionary EmpowermentA Re-look at Spirituality, Cultural Integrity and Development

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Revolutionary empowerment Monash Conference Paper

  1. 1. Revolutionary Empowerment: A Re-look at Spirituality, Cultural Integrity and Development Murray Hunter SME Unit University Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) Kangar, Perlis, Malaysia AbstractA large proportion of people in rural areas throughout South-East Asia, although notconsidered in absolute poverty, exist in relative poverty, lacking perceptions ofopportunity. Many development and empowerment programs to assist rural developmenthave failed or brought only qualified success. Current education systems do not reallymeet the needs of rural communities and tend to be orientated towards those wanting tobe involved in industrial development. This paper discusses these issues and providessome possibilities of what could be based on new emerging paradigms.To equalize rural-urban affluence requires a great effort of imagination; …. Systems of ideasand values that suit relatively affluent and educated city people are unlikely to suit poor, semi-illiterate people. Poor people cannot simply acquire an outlook and habits of sophisticated citypeople. If the poor cannot adapt to the methods, then the methods must be adapted to thepeople. E. F. Schumacher1God does not change the conditions of a people until they change their inner shelves Qur’an 13:11Competitive advantage grows fundamentally out of value a firm is able to create for its buyersthat exceeds the firm’s costs of creating it. Value is what buyers are willing to pay, andsuperior value stems from… providing unique benefits that more than offset a higher price. Michael E. Porter2Opportunities are a product of our mind and these visions can become the design of our futurewith skilful and creative utilisation of scattered existing and forgotten resources to create greatunimagined synergies. This is the true power of creativity that God has given humankind. Author Introduction, Background: The Current SituationIt has long been recognized that economic growth in the developing world is notproviding equality of opportunity to all people. Economic growth in the developing world
  2. 2. is region and urban orientated, leaving vast masses of people still without the ability tobenefit from development. Unfortunately aggregate economic reporting often fails tohighlight these regional pockets and then miss the attention they deserve fromdevelopment programs offered to other groups in the same countries. Many of thesegroups cannot be classified as in absolute poverty, but are trapped in a situation whereincome can satisfy only basic living needs and vocational and entrepreneurial educationis out of their reach.This paper reflects my journeys and time in places like Sabah, Kelantan, Kedah andPerlis in Malaysia, many parts of Southern Thailand and time spent with peopleconcerned about the development of Namibia. This paper is also based on reflection uponmany well intentioned development programs which I have seen and sometimesparticipated in, that have failed due to poor delivery, failed to capture the aspirations ofparticipants or ended up being a promotional exercise rather than a real attempt toimprove the situation on the ground. Unfortunately, I have also seen some programsinsincere about their true objectives, improving the wealth of the implementers, leavingtarget groups no better off. There are also programs within the existing education andgovernment delivery systems run for the purpose of achieving necessary KPIs, ratherthan tackling the real problems and issues at village level.After years of development efforts, years of focus, well after political independence, theplight of many millions of people is not reported in any news, ignored and forgotten, andunlikely to change in the future. According to notable people in the field of rural studies,empowerment and anthropology, the writer’s personal observations are a wide spreadphenomenon in the developing world3.People have a differing set of opportunities according to geographical location, familybackground, education and access to resources. People without outside intervention canremain in poverty because of the lack of saving and capital depreciation, which preventsthem from investing in the future. The area they live in may also be remote and withoutadequate physical and social infrastructure. There may be lack of individual and groupinnovation and access to technology. The ageing of skilled artisans and drain of anyyoung skilled people, lured by urban opportunities, compounds this problem further.High fertility rates and sickness may prevent many from playing active roles. Add theeffects of droughts, floods and other natural disasters; the plight of some ruralcommunities is insurmountable.It can be generally said that the scope of opportunities are much lower in rural than urbanareas, leaving a choice for the younger generation, either to stay in the village and acceptwhat is, or drift to the cities in search of new opportunities. Rural population moving intothe cities is one of the major drivers of urbanization within the developing world, puttinggreat stresses on urban infrastructure and development, often straining already limitedfiscal budgets. This compounds rural infrastructure development problems, wheregovernments tend to prioritize development of the urban areas with the limited resourcesthey have. Even for people with ideas in rural areas, there is difficulty converting theirconcepts into an opportunity, often from a lack of specific technical knowledge, skills,
  3. 3. networks and resources. For married and single mothers, there is strong social andeconomic bonding to the village, leaving them in a situation that may be just a littleabove subsistence.During my time visiting rural communities in South East Asia, I have observed somecommon factors to exist. Development stagnation occurs because of a generally lowereducational disposition than the rest of the country, which prevents rural developmentkeeping pace with urban growth. With remoteness from urban areas, many villages areusually unable to benefit from any existing tourist industry. An ageing farmer population,equipped with a limited knowledge of potential opportunities and matching skills alsoexists. There is usually growing unemployment sometimes leading to a host of socialproblems and a wide gap in affluence between the towns and the surrounding ruralhinterland. A scarcity of ideas, resources, access to markets, education and skills leads toa narrow mindset, within what Goffman calls a psychic prison4, maintaining a sense ofpowerlessness. Usually a total lack of will sets in.For those that make the choice to migrate to the urban centres, urban life will introducethem to a new set of cultural traits that need to be learned to survive. These cultural traitsare often far removed from the values and beliefs they are brought up and used to. Someof these new traits weaken cultural identity and can bring about both a crisis at theindividual and social level. Today in many Asian societies, the children of those whomigrated from the villages perceive things and behave in vastly different ways to theirgrandparents, leaving their parents with divided loyalties between the value systems oftheir parents and children.Higher education is out of the reach of many in the village due to a number of barriers,such as cost, pre-requisite achievement and other selection factors. Those that intend tostay in a rural area after completing their education, often lack the specific information,knowledge and skills directly relevant to what they might want to do. Most existingentrepreneurship education is taught with the assumption that people want to grow theirbusiness to the size of a definable SME. This may not necessarily be the aspiration of allpeople in rural areas. Conventional resource acquisition is another part of manyentrepreneurial programs in situations where the availability of finance or enough savingsto start a new venture may not be present. Thus available entrepreneurship education doesnot meet the needs of most.After the Second World War many developing countries gained their independence. Thisbrought about political emancipation from their former colonial masters. However inmany cases colonial governments were only replaced by ‘neo-colonial’ governmentsdominated by a few families, which relied upon western ideas, institutions and strategiesfor development. Numerous local economies were dominated by multinationalcompanies, foreign owned financial institutions, relying upon primary products as themajor source of foreign exchange. Development advice was provided by benefactorcountries within the socialist strategy where the government played a major role or amixed economy model, following a classic industrialization strategy based on Rostow’sstages of growth model5.
  4. 4. Growth strategies focused on building industrialization in the urban centres. Where thecountry had a large population with potential spending power, import substitutionstrategies were employed to build employment. These strategies had consequences onrural development which was largely ignored. Technology was imported in ‘turnkey’form, soaking up savings for investment. Often this did not result in any significantcompetitive advantage, so had to be propped up through protection. These policies alsotended to ignore industries with potential self-employment, based on traditional skills andhandicrafts. The result of this was a loss in traditional skills and cultural organizationsystems. The effect of development practices actually socialized oppression. Changes in ThinkingShortfalls in investment relied upon foreign aid, which literature over the past fewdecades has both advocated and criticized. Much of this aid was focused on infrastructureand national development. The general western institutional consensus during the 1960’swas that development should take precedence over equity, which would be redistributedlater. This paradigm was so strong that Meier’s Classic textbook on developmenteconomics did not even mention poverty and income redistribution in its first edition6.Eugene Burdick and William Lederer summed up the foreign aid situation in theirbestseller The Ugly American back in 19587. It was the young engineer Homer Atkinswho worked side by side with the local villagers to create things that were needed foreveryday life, while both the Soviets and Americans played with foreign aid for politicaladvantage. John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man greatly elaborates(although factually debated and disputed8) about the role of foreign aid for politicaladvantage9.Geoffrey Sachs in his book The End of Poverty heavily criticizes the clinical approachtaken to poverty eradication by the major international agencies. He claims that “manypoor countries today pretend to reform where rich countries pretend to help them”10, andthat aid agencies tend to be fixed on developing symbolic rather than substantive projects,in what he terms the “motions of reform doing little in practice”11. Sachs recognizes thatdevelopment starts with the people themselves, who must be ready and willing to act bothindividually and collectively, rejecting the acceptance of their fate12. The Education SystemInstitutionalized education has undergone a massive change over the last couple ofdecades. Education has transformed itself from an integral part of a country’sinfrastructure that lays a claim on government resources, to an activity that can generatelucrative profits for providers. Education is undergoing corporatisation and evenprivatization to some extent, and is now one of the fastest growing industries within theglobal economy. Education is no longer a recipient of aid, but a source of profits.
  5. 5. Growth of the education sector tends to be centered in urban areas and is perhaps thesecond largest single item of expenditure for families after a house (in many rural areas,it would cost much more than a house). Educational institutions tend to offer courses thatare popular and can provide a means of gaining good and high paid jobs in the growingindustrial economies. Courses like business and engineering are growing, while at thesame time courses in agriculture and rural activities have been scaled back dramatically.Business education has generally followed the American model based on the MBA. DBAsand BBAs are also taking their place along side the MBA in a number of hybrid formsaround the developing world. Henry Mintzberg, considered by many to be one of thefounding fathers of modern business management has been one of the most vocal criticsof the current business education system and the MBA, in particular. He stated that “…regular full-time MBA programs with inexperienced people should be closed down. It’swrong to train people who aren’t managers to become managers…. MBA programs areconfused between training leaders and specialists. At the moment we train financialanalysts and expect them to become leaders…to be superbly successful you have to be avisionary…success can come if you are a true empower of people, are empathetic andsensitive, these are not the qualities that the MBA will nurture. MBA programs usuallyattract neither creative nor generous people and the end result is trivial strategists13.”Compounding the problem further is that there are few programs available to rural peopleat or near their domicile. Institutions set up specifically for community education mostoften lack instructors with business experience at the micro level. Those courses availableare mostly based on conventional small business courses, that are totally inadequate asthey fail to empower participants in the creativity of ideas, and focus on business models,which already exist in heavy competition. They don’t show how to seek resourcesoutside of traditional institutions and lack guidance in showing how to seek innovativeways to apply useful technology to the circumstances of how and where they live. Thegap between what is available, and what is needed, can be seen when contrasting thevarious tenants of the small business and entrepreneurial paradigms as shown in Table 1.Table 1: Small business and entrepreneurial paradigms Attribute Small Business Entrepreneurial Business Risk Risk is to be avoided by Ideas and opportunities are always undertaking a business activity risks. Every village and every that is already proven to be person is unique and will have successful. Therefore business different ideas that suit them. models will not be novel.Need to Achieve A small business is totally Financial return may not be the orientated towards a financial prime motivator. Individuals and return. groups may want to produce something they like and have pride in. Creativity An enterprise will fit into a The enterprise from the first idea proven model so not much may be driven by many types of
  6. 6. creativity is needed. creativity, and creativity itself may be a source of satisfaction. Flexibility A small business is a business Individuals and groups may be operated through a disciplined looking for maximum flexibility routine in most cases. in an enterprise, so it can fit in with their life, rather than they have to fit in with the small business. Change Small businesses rely on little Change in the environment may environmental change for suit individuals and groups as success. they don’t want to get locked into routine, and change prototes their creativity. Independence Financial independence is the We are already independent and objective. don’t want a business to lock us into a strict routine. Foresight A daily, weekly, monthly or We may have to keep coming up seasonal cycle that is with new things to keep the predictable. enterprise going. Initiative There are very tight resources to We rely on initiative to keep have much initiative. going, and all initiatives are considered. Control of The future is controlled by sales The future is in our hands of what destiny in the marketplace. we want to be. Commitment Total commitment. I want to be committed on my terms. Leadership I am the leader and do all tasks. Leadership is defined by tasks. TechnologyRapid advances in technology are driving economic growth and development throughoutthe world. Technology advances were the catalyst of the industrial revolution. Theadvances in information, communications, containerization and transport technologiesover the last few decades have provided the means for businesses to operate on a globalscale like never before. However, technology in much of the developing world is adoptedwithout question. Dr. Asma warns there …“is also the tendency for Asian countries,including Malaysia, to deal with the issue of values in development by importing manytechnologies and systems wholesale from abroad without going through the process ofmental transformation necessary to master them fully. Although Malaysia is goingthrough rapid transformation, our growth is one without development in the context ofknowledge contribution to science, engineering and technology. As long as we areconsumers and operators of sophisticated techniques, plants and technologies importedwholesale from abroad, we are to a certain extent undergoing a technology-less form ofindustrialization. This transformation of values and attitudes is a key issue in the nation’sdevelopment agenda”14 . Blind acceptance of technology is a barrier to empowerment,
  7. 7. reinforcing the accepted market structure. Accepting technology as a given, is associatedwith a paradigm of doom, inhibiting local innovation.Technology as well as driving economic growth is also creating a number of destructiveeffects upon traditional lives in the developing world. Joseph Pearce in a sequel book toSchumacher’s book Small is Beautiful, states that “the introduction of inappropriatetechnology in third world countries has forced many millions to uproot themselves fromvillages and migrate to the cities, where they are doomed to lives of urban squalor anddeprivation15’. It is ironic that the quest for economies of scale and large enterprises inthe developing world is actually contrary to business growth trends in the United Statesand Europe, where small business makes up the majority of economic activities16.One of the major themes of Schumacher’s philosophy was adapting technology to suitsmall group enterprises so they could benefit from economic development where theylived, without the need to migrate to urban areas. He argued that economies of scale wasa misguided argument and that production costs would not necessarily be any higher dueto small scale production. This idea has been shown to have success in the recentdocumentary The New Heroes demonstrating through examples that technology can beadapted successfully to the micro-level with great benefits17. Building one’s own capitalgoods and means of production is in-fact one of the key success factors in the Japanesebeing able to successfully compete on cost against the Chinese in international markets,according to Chen. A lesson can be learned from some of the Japanese companies.Japanese companies have been able to build their own plant and processing equipment ata third of the cost of the Chinese18, who purchased their equipment from third partyvendors. The Japanese have realized that this is a source of competitive advantage andare able to continue to export from a much higher cost base because of substantial capitalsavings. Technology is simply about how to produce things in the most practical way.Many government agencies and programs aimed at eradicating poverty in the region havelacked market orientation. Any individual successes would appear to be more the resultfrom a few committed and passionate ‘local champions’ who have been able to developthe imagination and commitment of the people they are working with. Many differentdevelopment models have been utilized and new initiatives launched which often seem tolack thought and sensitivity to the target groups they are aimed at empowering19. The Malaysian ExperienceIn the Malaysian case, the Prime Minister, YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawihas given strong personal support to the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The plan has a majorobjective of revitalizing the agricultural sector to become the third pillar of growth in theeconomy20. Although projections of the agriculture sector’s percentage of GDP is stillexpected to decline over the next five years, from 8.2% in 2005 to a forecast 7.8% in2010, real GDP is expected to increase from RM21,585 million in 2005 to RM27,518million in 2010. A real growth rate of 5.0% p.a. is required to achieve this21. Thisobjective is expected to be achieved through increasing Government expenditure in thissector from RM7,749 million or 4.6% of total Government expenditure during the
  8. 8. Eighth Malaysia Plan to RM11,435 million or 5.7% of total Government expenditureduring the current plan22.The vision for agriculture under the Ninth Malaysia Plan is to transform the sector into atechnology and skills based sector, relying on estate sector expansion, research anddevelopment and entrepreneurship to improve productivity and increase efficiencies. TheGovernment will attempt to facilitate this through investing in infrastructuredevelopment, human resource development and increasing funding for research in thesector23. Through this approach, new sources of growth are expected to be exploited,agro-based processing expanded with diversified products, new global marketsdeveloped, thus increasing the incomes of entrepreneurs, farmers and small-holders24.The policy recognizes that there are still pockets of poverty in rural areas and a slowtransformation of small-holdings into modern farms25. The Ninth Malaysia Plan is veryspecifically focused on the above issue, when compared to the Third NationalAgricultural Policy (NAP3) 1998-201026, reflecting the changes in thinking from the late1990’s, when that document was written.The most crucial part of the Ninth Malaysian Plan agriculture policy is in the area ofhuman capital development. The overall macro-economic objective is to increaseproductivity by 6.2%27. The policy specifically focuses on “emphasis will be given to theprovision of training to change the mindset and attitudes of farmers and fishermen aswell as the younger generation including those with higher education to participate moreeffectively in modern and commercially orientated agricultural activities’28. Not only isthis measure intended to improve productivity, but assist in creating job opportunities forthose unemployed in rural areas, a source of poverty in Malaysia. The plan to train657,720 people over the next five years shows the immense size of this initiative andpriority of the Government. Under these programs, small and medium size entrepreneurventures are specifically targeted as a major component29.The smallholder sector in Malaysia produces the bulk of the country’s cash crops andtheir contribution to food production is significant. However, most smallholders sufferfrom uneconomic land sizes, exposure to commodity price fluctuations, rising input andproduction costs, shortages of labour, soil erosion, and persistent low productivity. Thereis also a high degree of monoculture in this sector and this is stressing soils. Togetherwith many poor farming practices, the bulk of the smallholder sector is unsustainable,where high levels of phosphates, pesticide and herbicide residuals are finding their wayinto waterways and the water-table itself. This group is among one of the lowest incomegroups in the country.In addition, the children of smallholder families, given the opportunity, are attracted toother careers outside farming, as they see this as a way out of poverty. This compoundslabour shortages and starves the sector of good management and entrepreneurship. Thusthe sector is left with an aging labour population. Also, good agricultural land near citiesand towns is now worth more for other uses and many sucome to the temptation to selltheir land.
  9. 9. The smallholder sector generally has a very low technology base. There has also been alarge failure in successfully implementing new crops and developing village basedproducts in the sector. Research institutions like MARDI follow only national new cropagendas, so regional new crop development is left to the various state agriculturedepartments, most having extremely limited resources for research, development andextension. There are a number of steps required to successfully implement a new crop,which needs technical, management, entrepreneurship skills and finance. Financialinstitutions are extremely reluctant to advance funding for new crops and technologydevelopment. Smallholders have traditionally only been interested in cultivating crops forother people to market and sell, thus missing more profitable parts of the value chain.Table 2. Issues and problems Encountered in New Crop Development30 Issue CommentsFocus Paradigm • Requires focus on concept of food where present focus is on cultivation • This requires research • This requires entrepreneurship approach • Concepts not understood by farmersBasic Research • Needs access to worldwide data • Requires availability of suitable germ-plasmas • Requires basic R&D to determine whether crop technically suitable • Requires basic R&D to determine if potential crop is economically feasibleCrop Management & • Propagation technologiesProcessing • How to plant, cultivate & manage to crop • How to harvest, extract, store and handle • How to process • How to package • Transportation and storageMarketing • Require coordination of production with demandInfrastructure • Require correct channels of distribution • Requires a marketing strategyEconomies and • Requires enough volume to economically transport andLogistics distribute • Requires solution to inconsistencies of quality and productionOrganisation • Need committed people with strong leadership and trustGovernment • Need to translate support into action • Need funding allocationsFinance • Very difficult to obtain funding for these projectsConsumers • Need efforts for education & promotion
  10. 10. The author believes that failure to solve the many issues and exploit opportunitiesmentioned above, have a basis in a socio-psycho ‘mindset’ prevailing in the country. Thisis not to say that a change in mindset is the only factor that would result in solvingproblems and exploiting opportunities. Infrastructure, education, skills development,market scanning, new crop product and processing development and last but not least,financial support are all factors, just as important to make change. However withoutmindset change, the allocation of resources into all the other areas is not likely to changethe nature of the rural sector.The writer’s observation of this prevailing mindset is that it is common through thevarious participation levels in the sector, as can be shown in the following examples; 1. Farmers and small-holders tend to produce first without buyers, rather than go out and look for customers, market passive, 2. If one farmer is successful in cultivating a particular crop and has a ‘niche’ market, many others will want to join the bandwagon until over supply occurs, copy cat approach, 3. Farmers and small-holders have for generations used the ‘quick-fix approach’ to agricultural practices and problems, i.e., heavy use of herbicides, pesticides and burning off to rid the land of weeds, pests and wastes, and have little understanding of the concept and value of sustainable farming, poor exposure and perhaps resistance to new ideas, 4. Mono-cropping is widely practiced, rather than integrated approaches, practice isolation, 5. Considered potential crop options are usually within a narrow list of traditional crops, market isolation, and finally 6. People only undertake agriculture activities, if they cannot get a better job somewhere else, perception of agriculture as only a fallback profession.In addition, management (both public & private sector) tends to compare all potentialnew crops with palm oil revenues, i.e., ‘benchmarking’ in evaluating economic andcultivation potential, fixation on a single success.Another common phenomenon is what was termed as the ‘knowledge trap’ by ProfessorHans-Dieter Evers of the University of Bonn. The knowledge trap process begins whendata, knowledge and information is taken over without understanding of thecorresponding local and site specific issues involved and this data becomes the basis tocopy solutions into the local context. The transfer of knowledge without testing andlocalisation can lead to poor investments and project failure as the gap in the informationlet unknowns unresolved31. It is too common that local decision makers fall into this trap.Psychologically, this can be seen as a manifestation of overconfidence, which can inextreme cases perpetuate an air of arrogance and close one’s mind to bad news and signsof failure in the pursued development strategy32. This is a much wider phenomenon andcan be seen almost universally in management around the world33. Overconfidence is a
  11. 11. facit of a more general optimism bias, making one believe in their own judgements, eventhough data supporting these views is not present. General behaviour arising from this istaking actions in situations where information and advice to the contrary is provided byothers and ignored34.Finally on this point, this behaviour tends to be supported by the metaphoric idiom as‘berlagak pandai’ or showing off a pseudo-knowledgeable behaviour, that may not haveits basis in fact or proven data. This is perhaps a culture specific behaviour which hassomething to do with ‘being honest’ is not preferable, if honesty reveals one’s lack ofknowledge or ignorance. This can be summed up as a dysfunctional cultural trait, as theidiom ‘segan bertanya sesat jalan’ or if we feel shy to ask, then we may go unguidedindicates35. The Need for Paradigm Change – Old Village, New VillageProblems at these proportions require complete change, to escape the paradigm of doom.However, opportunities are required to empower people and much of the debate is aboutfinding opportunity for rural communities. History has shown that opportunity is poorlycreated through political processes and political victories do not necessarily bring withthem empowerment for the people. There must be something else, as some countries inthe developing world that gained independence from their colonial masters have notreached any degree of empowerment for their people in the rural areas, and somecountries with non-democratic regimes are beginning to develop the process within theirvillages. The concept of opportunity should be examined.The concept of entrepreneurship is understood by many to be about attributes and traits ofsome people that give them an “entrepreneurial” make-up. Entrepreneurship is oftentalked about in the sense of propensity to take risk, the need to achieve and the ability toexploit an opportunity through product development, innovation and networking36. Thestudy of entrepreneurship is shifting focus to the issue of opportunity discovery37.Logically, only after opportunities are discovered, can they be exploited.During the early part of last century, Hayek saw entrepreneurship economic activity as ajourney of continual discovery which usually brought about minor or incrementalchange38. Schumpeter, another economist of the same period, saw that innovation in themarket through new products was most favourable when the economy was nearequilibrium39. Markets would follow a cycle where the best entrepreneur would introducea new innovation, only to be followed by the less talented entrepreneurs at a later stage.Higher economic growth due to inertia towards equilibrium would bring moreopportunities (see figure 2).So where do opportunities come from? This is the fundamental question of education anddevelopment. Opportunities are not there to see without creative discovery. Discovery isa cognitive process related to mental processes that engage one in seeing things in ameaningful way. This means that opportunity is a social construct, rather than somethingtangible or intangible that can be seen or can be read. It requires putting sensory and
  12. 12. factorial data together in some sort of ordered or patterned way through an intuitiveprocess. The same stimuli can be seen by different people, with different constructs madethrough differing cognitive interpretations. This places cognitive discovery or spottingopportunities at the centre of entrepreneurship. Casson defined “entrepreneurialopportunities as the discovery of novel means-ends relationships, through which newgoods and services, resources and agency are created”40. Opportunity is blocked by themind. Entrepreneurial success depends upon the interactions of the characteristics of theopportunity and the people who exploit them, which places the importance in strategy,resource, agency and management as the second fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship.The importance of the opportunity discovery and exploitation process in entrepreneurshipis shown in figure 1.Figure 1: Product Lifecycle, Profits, and IP Value (Innovation) in a Market Potential Product Lifecycle IP Value & Profitability Novelty IP Va lue Competitive Concept Risk Taking Risk Taking it of Pr Pioneers Early Early Late Late followers Majority Followers Time MajorityThe base of opportunity discovery is knowledge. Knowledge gives rise to newopportunities. Thus the opportunity space or scope of opportunity is dependent upon theability of people to gather and exploit new knowledge. This goes some way to explainingwhy there is a higher propensity towards entrepreneurship in developed countries and inurban areas of developing countries where there are larger flows of information41.Increasing peoples knowledge in rural areas requires the overcoming of institutional,cultural, individual and financial barriers. Education is a perquisite in developing theskills of opportunity discovery.There is a general consensus that there are more potential opportunities in technologythan in non-technology industries42. The mythology of the word technology can be
  13. 13. debunked by looking up the meaning in the Oxford Dictionary; scientific knowledge usedin practical ways in industry. Scientific is defined as a way of doing something orthinking. If cognitive processes can be trained to see things differently by looking atthem in new ways, then new knowledge can be created, leading to the discovery of newopportunities. Higher knowledge levels will not only lead to better individual innovativeoutput, but also create new opportunities for others in the community through “spin-off”projects43.The limited success of over sixty years of development efforts, requires a revolutionarychange in thinking and action, to catalyse the new village. The term revolutionaryempowerment was used by Gioconda Belli in her novel La Mujer Habitada (TheInhabited Woman) to question western civilization’s understanding of nature andtechnology in their life and development and recognize the different role of nature inindigenous culture44. As we have seen, independence and revolution brought politicalempowerment under new artifacts of independent destiny, but in the majority of casesthis did not correspond with much economic and cultural independence in the rural areasof many countries. The first revolution meant a change from a colonial to a ‘neo-colonial’regime making the political decisions and multinational corporations making theeconomic decisions. People in rural areas have little better access to finance, resources,technology, education and distribution channels. A redefining of the concept ofdevelopment is needed and a second revolution of human empowerment is called for.Figure 2: The Importance of Opportunity Discovery and the Exploitation Process inEntrepreneurship Ideas Opportunities Solutions Realisation Performance Management Capability Spots Evaluates Selects Targets Creativity Innovation Strategic Thinking Differentiation Competitive Capabilities Governing Competitive Advantage Scope Costs: to customers Knowledge: Industry/market/technical/p Competencies rocess Entrepreneurial, Opportunity Relationships: Identification, Network, Conceptual, Customers/suppliers/distri Organisational, Strategic, Commitment, butors/relative power Resources Structure: Ability
  14. 14. Schumacher questioned the very concepts of the development paradigm a long time agoand to some degree economic empowerment of rural communities on their terms isbecoming politically correct. We have to accept that others may want different lifestylesand value their tranquility and surroundings more than their yearn for materialdevelopment. If we can accept this, then education becomes concerned with knowledgeand creativity, based on the existing surroundings and lifestyle of rural groups. Thusrevolutionary empowerment has to tackle the unconscious institutional socialization ofoppression, employ catalytic processes to assist people to see things in new ways, harnesstechnology in new ways through taking a wider view of what technology really is, seeresource acquisition in a new light and develop new structures of agency to utilize marketchannels innovatively, within the context of what is important to the individual,economically, socially, spiritually and culturally. This requires questioning and reflectingupon the opportunities in the existing capitalist/market system structure. New Markets?Global business over the last two decades has expanded like no other time in history,where trademarks and brands like FedEx, McDonalds, CNN and Starbucks areestablished in Beijing, London, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Sydney. This spread of businessand cosmopolitan culture has partly been made possible by the rapid increase inimmigration throughout the world. This environment is now allowing ‘culturallyorientated brands’ like Aljazera, and McDoner spread globally, emulating the establishedMNCs from developed countries. The developing global business environment isallowing linkages between developed and developing economies which are becomingdeeper45.International markets are extremely complex to understand (see figure 3). Howevertoday, modern technology, transport and communications, are now accessible to ruralcommunities like never before in our social history. Markets can be seen as systems.Through curious reflection and questioning of the existing relationships, new modes andstrategies for market entry can be discovered. This can be seen through the followingexamples. • Domestic, International markets and channels: Some products developed according to common themes can satisfy the aspirations of consumers across multiple markets, while some markets are entirely different culturally, running counter to the concept of the cosmopolitan man. What works in one market may not always work in another. The influence of what channel you utilize may have a great bearing on success and may lend credibility to your marketing strategy, while products on the shelf in a crowded market may just loose their meaning. The internet is now a linker of markets and an extension of packaging.
  15. 15. Figure 3. A Systems View of an International market Domestic Market Competitors Tastes Trends Feed forward Promotion Competencies Branding Channels Chemical Raw Materials Relative Style Logistics Competitive Packaging Advantage Sourcing Finance Company Fit Manufacturing Processes Regulation Feedback Material Technology Availability International Markets • Regulation: is both a gatekeeper restricting what you can do and at the same time a useful barrier to entry and also part of a marketing strategy. REACH will have international consequences where many ‘natural’ products must carry warnings. Many markets now have high entry costs, keeping out the fainthearted. Organic, Halal, kosher and Fairtrade certifications now form part of the labeling and become part of the corporate image of many companies. • Tastes, trends, material availability, technology and competitors: Winning over competitors is dependent upon identifying tastes and trends and providing a product proposition successfully to consumers. Acquiring and developing apt technologies and raw materials is a strategy enabler for a firm and will become a facet of relative competitive advantage. • Style, branding, logistics, competencies: All are now integrated and the same thing. Branding and logistics must be reflected in your competencies. There is no such thing as being ‘half green’ or ‘half ethical’. That will only lead to skepticism on the part of consumers. Many MNCs have made this mistake with new product launches. • Finance: The way of financing the cosmetic and personal care industry is set for great changes. Venture capitalists will finance new bio-materials, look at Silicon Valley. Companies will quickly list on equity exchanges, able to pull in funds from consumers based on the aspirations of their corporate philosophy.
  16. 16. Distribution channels will also become funding channels where consumers can invest in the manufacturers through managed trusts. • Relative competitive advantage: will no longer be based economies of scale but have more to do with brand, philosophy, theme and how well a firm manages logistics, material acquisition and channels of distribution. • Chemical raw materials and packaging: central to the whole picture – if you are what you eat, you also are what you use46.Product/markets can be seen as themes. A theme is not really a radical departure from theconventional marketing mix or customer orientated marketing concepts. A themeattempts to capsulate the aspirations of consumers and manifest these aspirations into theproduct. For example, this is not a strange concept to the cosmetic and personal careindustry. Most companies work on themes (some passionately), concerning theenvironment, safety, naturalness, health, beauty, economy, etc. For example, doconsumers buy products with tea tree oil because it is tea tree oil, or do they buy aproduct with tea tree oil because it is natural and perceived to be healthy? Why areorganic cosmetics reported47 to be the fastest growing cosmetic and personal caresegment in Europe and the US? Why are anti-aging products such an important marketsegment today? It all has something to do with aspirations.Aspirations are the base of a theme and a common generic typology of consumeraspirations can be used to identify common feelings within a community to explain whythey buy certain products. This can be developed into a theme and if enough consumershave these aspirations and if the new product has successfully engulfed these aspirations,chances are the new product will be well accepted by consumers. Just think about Aveda,The Body Shop, Innocent Drinks in the UK and Thursday plantations, just to mention afew.A consumer typology can be geographically based but also related to demographicsegmentation and psychographic segmentation. Psychographic segmentation is one of theprimary marketing tools today, which focuses on lifestyles, attitudes, values and beliefs.This can be illustrated using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a way to understand marketsegments48. Figure 4 shows product types matched to different needs levels (typologies)of consumers. When a product can be matched to the consumers’ needs profile, primaryand secondary product attributes and strategy can be relatively accurately aligned,theoretically giving a product a maximum chance of success.Once establishing the consumer typology a new product is to target, it is a matter offormally developing all of the attributes the product must fulfill. This is where allenvironmental attributes are merged into the product, so that the technical side of theprocess can commence with a clear idea of what is actually required. The aim is to mergethe brand image of a product, in synergy with product presentation (formula, packaging,
  17. 17. Figure 4: Product Types Matched with Different Needs Typologies Fulfillment: (dreams) Actualisation (The Artist) Study after retirement Self-fulfillment Fresh vegetables (Organic) Books Fine Dining & Processed Foods Aromatherapy products Luxury cars Esteem Nutraceuticals & herbs Travel & Vacations (The Executive) Achievement, Fine Fragrances prestige,fulfillment Car Air Fresheners Responsibility: (hope) Fashion Clothes (e.g. Social (Worker) Jeans) Chewing Gum Family, relationships, workgroups Community: (acceptance) Most Water Household Safety (The Farmer) Purifiers Cleaning Home, Security and stability Necessities: based on what is good (existence) Products Fresh Soap Vegetables Physiological (The Hunter) Rice Basic Biological Needs – Food, water, air Staples: based on survival (fear)colour, advertising and corporate image), promotion, and other market strategies49. Anexample of a potential theme for say Borneo Rainforest products could be as follows;Sabah is on the World list of ‘exotic’ locations; There is Mystic; There is culturaldiversity; There is history and heritage; There is nature and serenity; Sabah is a place ofpeace, health and harmony50. Opportunities are constructed from the marketplace. Theydon’t actually exist until we create them. This is where innovation really starts in theempowerment process.The theme approach to markets is a useful tool to meet the paradigm shifts occurring inUS markets, according to recent research undertaken by the US based Natural marketingInstitute; • “The Age of the Individual is exploding in reaction to mass marketing and a declining trust in the traditional authorities of church, government and the corporation, driving a culture of consumer-generated content, products and services that are "made just for me." Consumer customization spans everything from personalized beverages with programmable bottles, Pumas custom-
  18. 18. designed sneakers, to Toyotas successfully customizable Scion. This trend for greater authority and self-discovery is also witnessed in the health decision making process, with an emergence of "independent attitudes" driving greater polarization of health and wellness at both ends of the spectrum, while increases in "condition specific" supplements reflect further expansion in the "made for me" culture.• From the rental of couture handbags and luxury car timeshares to "pop up" retail events, consumers increasingly respond to the temporary in a culture that is less permanent and forever on the move. For the health and wellness category, this means faster product lifecycles as consumers demand greater innovation and exhibit a greater willingness to try new products regardless of brand. This decline in brand loyalty is witnessed across categories, including the beverage category, as consumers seek the thrill of discovery of new products, new flavors and innovative packaging concepts. In addition, these "forever on the move" consumers will drive new innovation in healthy convenience.• The retail and brand "New Luxury" explosion that made consumers expect an extremely high level of experience at every touch point is now evolving beyond the physical and emotional dimensions to the experience of fundamental core values. From luxury hybrid cars to couture dresses made from organic and sustainable fabrics, it is not enough to have it all -- we also want to feel better about what we have. This is reflected in the growth of Ecotourism (which is outpacing the travel industry), cause marketing programs exploding as sourcing, materials, trade practices and social causes become a part of the consumer brand experience, as well as the growing popularity in organic products, along with the willingness to pay the 20% premium.• In response to decades of over-massification, consumers are embracing back-to- the-future simplicity, authenticity, hand-crafted and a belief that quality is better than quantity. Consumers are gravitating to smaller footprint retail environments, including a resurgence of "high street" shopping for one-of-a-kind offerings including "artisan" and handmade goods. Products with legible labels, simplified ingredients and reassuring packaging are also experiencing success. Nowhere is the back-to-the-future movement more apparent than the explosive growth of consumer brands perceived to be "small and authentic."• Scandals across religious, government and corporate institutions began the erosion of trust, while the explosion of widespread technology in a post 9/11 world is creating a highly fear-based society, driving consumers to attempt to take ever-greater control of their environment, property, time and safety. Consumers appear to be "shutting down" as a result of these mounting external factors, with growing concerns about food safety, climate change and a reliance on fossil fuels. This is translating into an increased desire for safer foods and beverages, organic and environmentally-friendly products, and significant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to build market share through trust and reassurance.• New media is putting the consumer in greater control in a content-driven world, changing the role of branding from one of authority to that of a peer. Websites are increasingly enabling consumers to customize their on-line experience,
  19. 19. creating tight-knit communities of like-minded people driving word-of-mouth about products and services as a result. The Internet is a growing platform for the Wellness industry in particular, as consumers confirm the increased influence of the Internet on their healthy and natural purchases. In fact, consumers are currently shopping the Internet in varying frequency for healthy and natural products. • Consumers have an insatiable demand for knowledge and learning as keys to self-actualization, creating an ever-increasing desire to maintain and optimize brain power. With distractions and 24/7 connectivity intensifying, consumers find their ability to concentrate and retain memory being drastically reduced. Not only a problem among Boomers, consumers across all age groups indicate significant concern about preventing concentration and memory problems. Nearly three-quarters of consumers are currently using supplements, foods or beverages to prevent memory problems and further opportunities exist to target the needs of consumers -- from students, to gamers to moms to seniors”51.Successful market paradigms (themes) utilized by well known international companiesare outlined in the Table 3 below:Table 3. Market/Brand Paradigms Utilized by Some International Companies Aveda The Body Thursday Sureco Hain Shop Plantation Celestial GroupEst. Sales USD120million USD1.5Billion USD85Milli USD40Mil55 USD738Mil56 (1996)52 (2006)53 on (2006)54 (2006) USD619mil (2006)Location USA UK Australia Malaysia USAEstablished 1978 1976 1976 1999 1926Products Personal Care Personal Care Personal Herbs Organic food Care and cosmeticsBasic Philosophy To sustain the Social Natural tea Halal & Free of environment humanitarianis tree Toyyibaan artificial and give back m activism on products/n ingredients, to communities many issues atural Kosher medicines foodsEthics YesGreen Yes Yes YesNatural Yes Yes Yes YesOrganic Yes Yes YesCommunity Yes Yes YesCulturalReligious/Spiritual Yes YesMode of Distribution Direct Retail and e- Direct and Direct General Marketing/Salo Commerce through Marketing distribution n distributorsOwner Estée Lauder Loreal Chris Dean Private Listed Companies Inc. & Family Ownership company
  20. 20. Each company has been able to create a solid position in international markets byfollowing a definite corporate and marketing philosophy. No company has completelyconnected all the possible paradigms together into one complete corporate image andphilosophy, except for Aveda and The Body Shop, although, the Body Shop has not beenwithout criticisms. One will see that as well as company branding and philosophy, thereis a link between company platform (i.e., Aveda owned by Estee Lauder) and size. Thusgood and opportune branding also requires strong channel access to succeed. One shouldalso note that there is a growing momentum of small to medium young companies thatare achieving dramatically high sales growth rates through the utilization of themes intheir marketing and corporate strategies.In markets like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong where intense tradebuyer concentration exists, reactionary purchasing attitudes also exist, which will onlyallow acceptance of proven consumer and market themes. New emerging themes are onlyadded to the shelves when the mainstream manufacturers tell retailers, that this ‘is theway to go’. An emerging new product theme has to wait until it is perceived mainstreamenough to generate a minimum number of unit sales a week on the shelves. Innovationbegins in other channels, direct marketing, the internet or even ‘Sunday markets’. InMalaysia and the rest of South-East Asia, the perceived risk of launching radical newproducts tends to stifle innovation, where many companies prefer being productfollowers, allowing others to innovate, thereby reducing their own risk. True innovationis found through alternative market channels, before new concepts are accepted in thetraditional retail trade, especially in Thailand and Indonesia.Globalism may be bringing about evolution towards the cosmopolitan-man. Yes it mayeven be bringing great similarities in the part of our collective psych concerning materialthings. We can criticize the global capitalist system and take an anti-globalism stance.But its like swimming in a river against the current, where there is no way you can swimupstream. Exhaustion will set in with nothing achieved, except drowning. We have tolearn to use the river current to our own advantage and empower ourselves accordingly tothe environment we face. This is a great departure from accepted Occidental assumptionthat man can control the environment and a shift towards the Eastern Oriental paradigmof that seeks ways and means to utilize the existing flows of nature to achieve ends ratherthan fight against them. Therefore they is great advantage of swimming with the riverrather than against it.This means that the global capitalist system in our nature can become our means and notour object of envy, dissatisfaction and criticism. The market can be reframed as aplatform to bring together the shared visions of both producers and consumers – a twoway, rather than, one way channel. The search now begins armed with new technologiesof how to utilize what is, rather than waste energy on what is not. Re-aligning Cultural Spiritualism
  21. 21. One of the cornerstones of culture is society’s fundamental ethical systems embeddedwithin the religious or other value systems. Max Weber is one of the earliest modernscholars who studied the relationship between religion and economic behaviour. Hefound a connection between the rise of capitalism in the West and the Protestant workethic. Weber believed there was a strong influence on economic and work behaviourfrom religious beliefs – i.e., religious values spill over to all areas in one’s life57. Webercompared this to Confucian ethics and found that people following Confucianism tendedto harmonise themselves with their environment and develop a collective form of socialrelationships. Weber postulated that different philosophies and religions in East and Westwould lead to different types of entrepreneurial spirit and managerial styles58.During the 1980’s and 1990’s many academics became interested in the connectionsbetween Confucianism and the spectacular rise of the Asian Tigers. Some argued thatConfucius was opposed to modernization as it didn’t advocate individualism, common tothe Western characteristics of entrepreneurship, was too dependent on guidance,emphasized an all round development of personality to harmonise with the environment,which discouraged aggressiveness and encouraged traditionalism, rather thanmodernisation59. However Tu suggested that individualism is a Western mode ofcapitalism and East Asian had developed another model based on relationships to developchange through consensus and networks, with a sense of personal discipline60.Confucianism was criticized for lack of profit motive, as his philosophies discouragedself-motivation and that merchants were not included in Confucius set of keyrelationships. However, through responsibility and obligation to family, other motivesexist, such as their well-being61, and treatment of those inside and outside an individual’suniverse of relationships will be different, i.e., treated with respect but caution, moreadversarial, rather than brotherly relationship. Confucianism is also criticized for its lackof innovation, whereas the reality of Chinese business has been to seek ways to control anexisting market, rather than create new value through innovation62.The traditions of Confucianism have historical and regional variations, there are certaincentral ideas and values which are common. These values have constituted the keyelements of the traditions of societies which have endured history and political upheavals.The basic Confucian concepts embraces a dynamic cosmological worldview forpromoting harmony amidst change, where individuals exist in concentric circles ofrelationships with ethical responsibilities that place importance on the family, within ahierarchical social system, where loyalty to elders is paramount and a generationalconcept of gratitude and respect for earlier ancestors exists. Education is the mechanismwhere individuals are cultured and developed as a means to enrich society and create asocial and political order. History is valued as continuality and a basis for moralreflection and learning. This philosophy was able to change the family in agrarian Chinafrom a unit of production to a collective moral dimension, with a social code for eachrank of the family hierarchy, very different from the Western concept of individualism63.This led to the concept of guanxi , much written about in Western literature, “a focus onrelationships with a shared history, respect for the past, a value that many – not all –Chinese cherish”64.
  22. 22. Two other concepts in Confucianism are Tao, the way of life and Te, potency and self-sacrificial generosity with humility, with the moral power of attraction andtransformation, associated with these qualities. The humanistic attribute required toachieve the above is through Jen, which means love, kindness and goodness, qualities ofthe perfect individual. This is the essence of what makes humans different from othermembers of the animal kingdom. Failure to develop Jen would lead an individual toquickly develop forgone conclusions, dogmatism, obstinacy and egotism, which wouldblock wisdom and prevent people from making new insights and discoveries, as one’smind must remain open to become wiser. Li is the expression of Jen in a social contextthrough norms, rites and rituals governing ceremonies according to one’s social position.Through Li, the individual expresses his respect and reverence for others65.It can also be argued that Confucianism actually has little influence on the way Chinesebusiness is operated, at least in South-East Asian countries like Malaysia. AlthoughChinese business sustains and nurtures family members and maintains a paternalistic andhierarchical nature of authority within the enterprise66, there is little evidence thatMalaysian Chinese businesses rely on guanxi networks for growth and development,have little interest in long term sustainability and little adherence to the Chinesephilosophies associated with Confucianism67. It is also unlikely that many contemporaryChinese have a thorough understanding of the Confucius philosophy or the will or wantto fulfill the piety and wisdom defined by Confucius in everyday life, as one of Confuciusfollowers Mèngzî warned, Jen is a concept not easily achieved by man. However modernlife and business may tend to be judged by old values, creating a complexity of behaviourthat is often hard to understand68, especially by the older generation that is Chineseeducated. John Naisbitt in his prophecy book Megatrends Asia predicted that the uniquestrengths of Chinese business networks, able to make speedy decisions and able to obtainresources through connecting people would make the Chinese business model the idealflexible form of social organization for the globally connected world of the future69.However this would assume that harmony doesn’t exhibit restriction on individuals fromcriticism of strategy, even though it may be constructive, as the practice of authority inChinese companies means obedience rather than careful questioning of the status quo70.Similarly, Buddhism as practiced in Thailand is often seen by many as a philosophyadverse to entrepreneurship. To the contrary, Buddhist teachings espouse the highest dutyand ethics towards oneself and society as a whole when undertaking enterprise, alsolisting taboos on the types of enterprises that should be pursued. The Buddha gave fiveways a moral person should be diligent to himself71. Through work, diligence and clear-sightedness where he could make himself and others happy, resources need to be utilizedto prevent them from being dilapidated or destroyed through age, fire, weather or theft,he could make suitable offerings to those that need them and to abstain from pride,arrogance and negligence, to adopt patience and gentleness. Finally a person’sindependence is an important means to finding inner peace and enlightenment for himselfand those that depend on him.The positive attributes exist, although they may not be observed in practice and notemphasised within an empowerment context.
  23. 23. World events and media portrayal of Islam over the last few decades has projectednegative images, which are based on a total misunderstanding of Islam and the principalsit encompasses72. Predominantly, Islam through many eyes is seen as a homogenous viewof the world, where many elements of the media have stereotyped73 it as an extremereligion. This situation has not been assisted by the lack of published academic andintellectual thought74, which could assist in developing more balanced views about whatthe principals of Islam stand for. The focus of most published works on Islamiceconomics and business has been in the domains of finance and morals75, which leadsmost to the conclusion that Islam has little to contribute in the theories of empowermentand enterprise.In a recent article by Raja Petra Kamarudin, he criticized Malay Muslims for being toofocused on “Islamic practices” without accepting the “Islamic values”, “…Malays pridethemselves on being good Muslims. ….. Malays are very ritualistic in their Islamicbeliefs. They do not care much about values. It is practice that counts when it comes toMalays and Islam. Values don’t count. For that matter, the Malays do not even begin tounderstand what Islamic values are76”. Dr. Chapra in an on-line interview was verycritical of the development of Islamic economic and business theories claiming they wereunbalanced in their approaches. He was reported to state that “Primary attention hasbeen given so far to Islamic Finance. This has led to the false impression that interest-free finance is all that Islamic Economics has to offer. Since most of the governments inMuslim countries are not yet convinced that interest-free finance is workable, excessiveemphasis on it has created a resistance in official circles against Islamic Economics.They find it to be of little value. This is unfortunate. We must blame ourselves for this.Islam is a complete way of life and is capable of solving the problems of not only Muslimcountries, but also of mankind”77.The Al-Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who was born into atrading family and brought up by Abu Talib, who was a trader. Society in the Prophet’stime was almost totally dependent on trade as a means to earn a living and unlike anyother religion, the Al-Qur’an is heavily written in the metaphor of business and trade.Within many parts of the Al-Qur’an life is paralleled to a business venture, where oneearns profits to gain entry into heaven – profits meaning faith and good deeds to othersand those that accept Allah’s (SWT) guidance as a bargain to save them from punishmenton judgment day78. Islam urges individuals to strive their utmost to earn large monetaryrewards and spiritual profits, while at the same time being inspired to be successful andhonest people79. This is part of the concept of ad-din, which makes material and spiritualpursuits inseparable, where one’s whole life is concerned with the needs of humankindhere on earth to secure a comfortable life in the Hereafter80. Consequently, Islam does notprohibit worldly success81, in fact Allah (SWT) has provided opportunities for humankindto obtain success and it is certainly the responsibility of the individual to do so82.However involvement in business should also carry with it benevolent intentions forothers while seeking success for oneself83.
  24. 24. Islam espouses a market economy with freedom of the individual to operate a businesswith minimal outside interference;“He who brings goods to the market is blessed with bounty, he who withholds them iscursed.”(Ibn Majah & Al Hakim)The essence of Islam is on man’s own efforts to advance himself before God willintervene:“See you the seed that you sow in the ground? Is it you that cause it to grow, or are Wethe cause?”Al-Waqi’ah 56:63-64Culture has a large influence upon our cognitive perceptions. These perceptions will to agreat degree drive our behavior. Perceptions are heavily influenced through the attitudesand beliefs we develop through our upbringing and integration into the society we feel webelong to. Our values and beliefs shape our views, where we try to fit what we sense inthe world according to these sets of beliefs. This helps form our values, which arereinforced by artifacts such as symbols, story telling and group behavior. It is a complexand circular phenomenon where beliefs reinforce the artifacts and the artifacts reinforcethe beliefs. This is why culture is hard to change because its elements act like bondingglue, pulling those who deviate back in, or if the bond is actually broken casting theindividual out of the critical mass of the rest of the populace. Our values are based upon aset of conscious and sub-conscious assumptions that would seem to be shared throughoutthe community.This simplistic model of culture highlights attribute sets made up from the assumptions,beliefs, values and artifacts of the society in question. Each set of attributes can be lookedat as being either negative or positive in a dialectic sea that continues to ebb and flowwithin itself. Culture is a living entity, sometimes developing strong negative attributes,which are destroyers of culture, rather than enrichers of culture. So for example in thecase of entrepreneurship, there is a set of positive influences (or attributes) and a set ofnegative influences (or attributes) within a community. The strength of each attribute willbe different and even change from time to time as new information or events happen andare perceived through their shared cognitive ‘glasses’ within the community. The keywill be; how to strengthen the positive and weaken the negative. With different strengthsas is with water, air and solids, one can only work with what can be molded and shaped.Its easier to work with sand on a beach that granite on the side of a mountain. Leadershipfacilitation dialogue seems the best way to engage the unconscious assumptions within acommunities culture.
  25. 25. Figure 5: The flow and Ebb of the Cultural Dialectic The Cultural Dialectic Destruction Negative Attributes Positive Attributes Growth Towards Revolutionary EmpowermentAll of the elements to enable revolutionary empowerment exist and are being used todayin some form or the other. It is not a matter of inventing or creating a new doctrine ofmicro-development at the village level, but assembling the parts into something thatworks. One Tambon – One Product (OTOP) is having some success in Thailand, with themodel being exported to Vietnam and the Philippines, major food and cosmeticcompanies are adopting ethical and empowerment procurement practices to benefitcommunities, as a core part of their marketing strategies84, value-adding commodities likecoffee through geographical differentiation85. Micro-finance schemes are in place inmany countries to directly assist villagers86 and entrepreneurs in developed markets areseeking to deal directly with producers to market indigenous products in their ownmarkets, as the Fairtrade movement is growing87. None of the methods and tools arenew – it is the effect of utilizing them together, that would be revolutionary.
  26. 26. The objective is to create ideas that fit into the schema of the people living in a village,which builds enthusiasm and pride. This requires a diagnosis of positive and negativecultural attributes to understand the root causes, so that groups can be engaged to assistthem in seeing new ways of acting in the world. Much can be learned from the work ofPaulo Freire in this area. From an idea, opportunity must be seen and developed into astrategy that can be accepted and followed, according to the aspired lifestyles of thepeople. Markets must be identified and accessed utilizing the current means ofcommunications, transport and logistics available (one must add here that the advent ofthe internet is one of the tools with the largest potential for empowerment – somethingthat didn’t exist a little more than a decade ago). Resources must be acquired andexploited to enable the opportunity to be exploited. There must also be access to skilldevelopment forums, so groups can acquire the necessary knowledge to undertake aventure. The elements needed to create a village based venture are summarized in Table 4below;Table 4: The Required and Existing Elements of Empowerment Element Existence Values Most spiritual doctrines and religions have very positive values towards enterprise, independence and empowerment. These have to be brought to the surface of some cultures or sub- cultures, i.e., refocusing on the functional rather than the dysfunctional aspects. Confidence Confidence is a group phenomena and can be improved through engagement of group processes to achieve new ways of seeing. Ideas The skills of ideation can be developed through access to communications technology and developing both partial and whole brain thinking. Potential By linking ideas to markets, modes of entry, resources and skill Opportunities needs, potential opportunities can be constructed. Product Focus on themes rather than marketing mixes, look for ways to incorporate consumer fears, existence, acceptance, hopes and dreams in the product (spiritual materialism) Markets Markets exist in various forms and segmentations with much more fragmentation, coupled with the ability to communicate are potentially accessible to village communities. Identify aspirations of consumers, connect products and channels to these aspirations. Technology Technology is a way of how to make and do things. Product manufacture can be undertaken in scaled down models to suit decentralization, small unit output and flexibility. The focus is on how to do things in more cost effective ways, within the existing cultural socio-organisational setting. Competitive In many FMCG markets competitive advantage has more to do Advantage with theme, schema and branding, through selected channels of
  27. 27. distribution, than economies of scale. The product is a fulfiller of dreams. Skills Not all the skills taught at formal educational institutions are needed to start an enterprise. In this regard its only necessary to provide people with what they need from the point of view of business, product development and production. There is a need for the “village university” to focus on showing people how to see, learn how to do and connect to consumers. Agency/Networks Through modern communications technology (internet & travel) it is now possible to contact and interact with very wide groups of people, including agencies of interest, customers, grant agencies and sourcing know-how. Logistics Logistics have advanced in recent years and can be coupled together such as the internet and EMS to create direct logistic systems between producers and consumers. Resources We have to learn to use what we have and utilize these limited resources innovatively. There are many methods of alternative funding that can be explored and set up, i.e., Zakat, unit trusts, closed equity markets, etc. Organisation New forms need to be generated from often discarded forms such as cooperatives. Cooperatives can exist at both production and market levels. People can form their own companies under umbrellas, organizations should be focused on linking the young with their older generation. Coalitions can be sort with larger organizations in developed countries for branding and market purposes. Organisations have to fit with existing social schema and develop from there, as people are ready.Positive values towards enterprise are required to motivate people to do things. Groupshold various values associated with fate and future, abilities, possibilities, and therewards of their labours, etc. Any positive values that potentially exist within the majorityof spiritual cultures are often immersed by other values developed through social and lifeinteractions. Changing values is the most challenging aspect of empowerment. One mustnot make the mistake of trying to convert others to our own values, however noble wefeel they are. This has been one of the greatest mistakes of those ‘trying to help’ in thepast. A village may not be ready for a new industry, but it might accept a new idea topass the time and earn some small extra income. Not all people want to be anentrepreneur in the sense we teach in conventional entrepreneurship programs.The facilitation of change thus involves the creation of new contexts that would break upthe old established patterns, in favour of new ones. Competing invisible forces(attractors) compete with each other to generate a situation where the group can travelalong different paths in the future. The mentor must find the right place and time andfacilitate new contexts that make the present paradoxes or contradictions irrelevant.Change becomes dialectic, where potential new futures have their opposites which areresisting any change, for example88;
  28. 28. Innovate ----------------------------Avoid mistakes Think long term--------------------Live for today Save money----------------------------Spend for the future Work by oneself-------------------------Work as a group Be flexible--------------------------- Follow rules and norms Collaborate--------------------------Compete Make your own decisions------------Make joint decisionsChanging values also requires a group acceptance of new sets of values and individualconfidence in the group’s acceptance. This requires dialogue to build new consciousness.David McClelland, best known for his achievement model and work on power inorganizations, also researched a person’s needs for affiliation. He found that the need foraffiliation or intimacy with a group plays an important role in motivation89. There arevarious reasons behind the need for intimacy. Groups are perceived to provide a sense ofsecurity for individuals where there is some uncertainty, or fear of something external tothe individual and group. Groups also provide individuals with a cognitive clarity (senseof how to interpret events around them) and a way to make a self evaluation and socialcomparison about the way they should dress, talk, think and act. Thus developingmotivation, based on McClelland’s model and work with entrepreneurs in India, may bestbe undertaken within a group context90.Ideas, shape the future of any individual, enterprise and village. It is ideas that have thepotential to become opportunities and ‘going-concern’ ventures. Ideas come frominformation, which can be converted into knowledge. People must be taught how toaccess information and develop knowledge from it, through guided intuition, utilizingaccepted strategic models as mental maps, rather than formal planning systems, which iscloser to the reality of how managers of companies really plan91. Usually the firstexposure to knowledge is news passed on from a friend, conference or seminar or someform of media, electronic or otherwise. There is no shortage of media reports and internetinformation, which can lead to ideas. These ideas must be filtered through the use ofmore factual information to screen the facts from the ‘hype’. Decisions need to be madeon the best factual information available, which can lead to knowledge. Figure 6 showsthe hierarchy of information that one has access to aid idea development and opportunityidentification92.To create knowledge, individuals and groups need to be taught thinking processes whichcan enable them to filter and arrange information in various ways, so as to learn and tosee opportunities. The ability to think creatively is a catalyst in itself for change. This
  29. 29. requires developing people’s ability to utilise the brain as a tool in analysis through bothpartial and whole brain thinking.Figure 6: The continuum from media reports to wisdom in relation to availabilityand usefulness Media Reports The Continuum from media reports to wisdom in relation Ideas to availability and usefulness Availability Increases Data Information Knowledge Wisdom Usefulness IncreasesNed Hermann divided the brain into four separate sectors or quadrants with specificstrengths, two on the left (A & B) and two on the right (C & D), as shown in figure 793.The left is more logical and the right works more with emotions, pictures and holisticconcepts. A number of activities can be utilised to teach people how to move fromquadrant to quadrant in their thinking processes. Within a group, some individuals willmaster a single or number of quadrants, creating thinking diversity of a group, whichshould be able to think collectively as a whole brain. This will enable explorers anddetectives to search out opportunities, artists to create concepts and engineers to translatethese concepts into reality through their solutions94.
  30. 30. Figure 7: The Four Quadrant Model of the Human Brain (Adapted fromLumsdaine & Lumsdaine) Number Crunchers A C Human Machines Logical Visual Achievement Orientated Factual Holistic Entrepreneurs Performance-Driven Critical Intuitive Explorers Technical Innovative Future-Orientated Analytical Conceptual Risk-Driven Quantitative Imaginative Conservative Interpersonal Teachers Structured Kinesthetic Social Workers Administrators Sequential Emotional Feeling-Orientated Bureaucrats Organised Spiritual Value-Driven Production-Orientated Detailed Sensory Task-Driven Planned Feeling B DInternational markets must be seen as a possibility to enter and supply. Ideas andproducts must fulfill consumers’ schema of fantasy to create differentiation and developsome form of competitive advantage in the marketplace. This is where the new marketstrategies of creating products according to consumer aspirations and using image andchannels, to make those connections, adds value if these products can appeal to the ego.This is where real intellectual property can be created, thus providing a unique productproposition to consumers (see table 5). This requires the development of a platform ofgeographically based branding, such as the example of Sabah mentioned earlier in thispaper. Suitable channels of distribution must be sort out which provide interactionbetween producer and consumer for maximum effect.
  31. 31. Table 5. Integration between a village group’s Core Mission, product/markettypology and the specific Intellectual Property they create 1. Recognition 2. DesirabilitySelected branding paradigm to highlight The product technology, i.e., natural,the project’s offering and values the organic, cultural and spiritual aspectsgroup stand for in the international should be reflected incorporated into themarketplace. (see figure branding product. Thus the products requiretypologies). This branding should show specific new knowledge, process andnatural (fully natural products) protocols to achieve these ambitions.Organic, Sustainable production,Community involvement, cultural andreligious identity, and within an ethicalbusiness framework. Patents, Registered Designs, Proprietary Knowledge and branding Trademarks and certain Copyright Information 3. Form 4. Emotional Connection Product manifestations must reflect The products should reflect the consumerwhere and why the products exist through ambitions for natural and organic copy, materials and form. products with a cultural and spiritual base and understand their direct contribution to the community. Copyrights and Trademarks Brands and TrademarksTechnology is the ingredient that makes concepts possible to be delivered to consumers.Technology also includes artisan methods of producing things that may have beenforgotten or come out of practice due to perceived lack of demand for artisan basedproducts. Ways of producing products at village level with simple equipment requiredevelopment and this is where universities can assist through their commitment tocommunity development, which is a statutory requirement in most countries. It would begood to see the day when students and ‘barefoot professors’ come down to the villageagain in a similar vain as Homer Atkins, to develop new innovations of existingtechnology that has great benefits to people. Its not necessary to invent totally new things– adaptation and re-engineering existing complex processes is what is badly needed indeveloping countries. Universities contain great amounts of knowledge that could benefitpeople and are almost totally underutilized. Through technology downscaling, productioncan be decentralized, thus allowing the maximum number of people to become involved.Like technology, skills can be developed at the village level through informal andrelevant programs. It is not necessary to complete a degree in engineering, a BBA or an