How can social entrepreneurship work for financial inclusion with vulnerable groups in society and assist them with their priority of living their lives and having money to pay for their daily needs? We wanted to understand more from a person with hands on experience, and therefore met with Abdoulaye Fall, a social entrepreneur working with Winkomun and Hello Europe, an Ashoka initiative which identifies the most powerful solutions related to migration. He shared his valuable learnings and insights with us:
What are the greatest challenges facing social entrepreneurs today?
I think one of the biggest problems is the lack of understanding that social entrepreneurship is an actual vocation. It is a scarce number of people that find it truly important to invest part of their life and time in trying to solve societal challenges. Social entrepreneurship can create a better world and we need more people and more companies to support us with our important mission.
You have made a fantastic journey as a social entrepreneur. What have been your most important success factors?
In my work, in social innovation and financial inclusion, the important part is not the money that people have been able to save. It is the change of mind-set that we have been able to create operating in low income areas and with poor people. Allowing them to see their future and empowering them to become what they want to be in their lives, rather than being dependent on government support from the outside.
I believe that the old model of helping people continuously, every day and in every moment, is not sustainable. Instead, we need to create solutions that help people to support themselves and in that way provide tools for dignity. What I most appreciate in my work is exactly that, working with the paradigm shift and changing the mind-set by saying to poor people that being poor or being migrants is not an excuse to avoid making efforts to improve their lives, it is up to them to do it. I think that if we want to help people getting out of poverty the best way is to give them the tools to assist them in doing so themselves. This is what we have done in my organization and I am very proud of this achievement.
What areas of financial inclusion are the most underserved?
We must understand that the priority of poor people, vulnerable people or migrants is living their lives and having money to pay for their daily needs and their bills. Social entrepreneurship should focus on giving them the tools they need. It is not about giving money unconditionally, it is not about helping them when they are fallen. It’s about helping people to see that they have capacity to provide money for themselves.
This is what I am a clear example of. I came to Barcelona from Senegal working as waiter in a restaurant, managed to get a university degree and improve my life. I had some help from people but not because I am a migrant but because I went to my group asking for a loan to pay my studies. If you want to work for an inclusive society it is to consider that all active members of the society are being able to provide for themselves.