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Unleashing Entrepreneurship

As the economic crisis deepens, redundancy is likely to be happening at a company near you. Many employers and governments will seek to soften the blow but the loss of skills and knowledge threatens to impoverish us all.

Key to the solution is entrepreneurship. While this requires no state programmes to initiate, governments that do assist aspiring entrepreneurs get good value for money - the average cost of a business start-up is less than the average annual cost of keeping a student at university, a prisoner in jail or a family on welfare.

Entrepreneurship is also largely independent of race, gender and class. As such, it is one of the most meritocratic spheres of society. And whereas in many workplaces, careers are thwarted by whimsical managers, there's little to stop entrepreneurs once the spirit of enterprise has been awakened within them. Taking what amounts to a step of faith, they mobilise their talents, knowledge and judgement in pursuit of a vision.

Although this vision can only be realised in service to others, until recently 'entrepreneur' was a dirty word. While those with engineering and business qualifications vied for jobs in large firms, directors of such firms often dismissed entrepreneurship as none of their business.

But this week's Global Entrepreneurship Week (17-23 Nov) testifies to a worldwide entrepreneurial revolution. Employers in organisations of all sizes now test potential recruits for entrepreneurial mindsets; governments are supporting entrepreneurship as the best antidote to poverty; and church leaders are validating pioneer forms of ministry that give birth to fresh expressions of church.

Some may wonder whether entrepreneurship has biblical warrant. But if entrepreneurship is about innovation, judgment and risk-taking, archetypal figures such as Abraham, Jacob and David reflect, despite their faults, strong entrepreneurial traits. Yet the primary model of entrepreneurship occurs at the very start of the Hebrew scriptures, where the curtains open on a God who overflows with innovation, wise judgment and the willingness to take risks - especially the risk of creating human beings and inviting them to join his start-up as stewards of the earth.

Redundant workers should not all be told they need to become entrepreneurs. Studies indicate that less than fifteen percent of us have what it takes. But those who do have what it takes deserve our help in unleashing their potential. For they represent the source of jobs and wealth through which all of us receive our daily bread.

Peter Heslam

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  entrepreneurs cannot be stopped once the spirit of enterprise has awoken within them
a global revolution of entrepreneurship is underway